It was 1981: The infancy of an era marked by Michael Jackson’s moonwalk, keyboard synthesizers, big hair and bigger recessions, also marked a new life for Samira and Nash Shariff. Toting their two boys, Naheed and Faisel, the Shariff’s left the east African country of Kenya for Edmonton. Twenty-eight years later the family has passed the 25 year milestone with Boston Pizza as the franchisees of four locations worth $15 million.
It was 1981: The infancy of an era marked by Michael Jackson’s
moonwalk, keyboard synthesizers, big hair and bigger recessions, also
marked a new life for Samira and Nash Shariff. Toting their two boys,
Naheed and Faisel, the Shariff’s left the east African country of Kenya
for Edmonton. Twenty-eight years later the family has passed the 25
year milestone with Boston Pizza as the franchisees of four locations
worth $15 million.
Upon arriving in Canada, the Shariffs worked multiple jobs to make ends
meet, one of which was Samira’s role as an accounts payable clerk with
Boston Pizza. Within two years she was comptroller of 13 locations, and
soon after, the family opened their first store.
“I appreciate what they’ve been through and what they’ve done,” says
Naheed of the work ethic his parents taught him as new immigrants in
The Shariffs created a family cocoon of entrepreneurial spirit for
their two boys to look up to. Naheed recalls helping his Dad out with
his Second Cup store as his own initial foray into the restaurant
business. Part of the family’s success may lie in an understanding of
the numbers – Naheed, Nash and Samira are all accountants by trade.
“Dad does all the accounting, administering and operations,” says
Naheed. He and his mother play the roles of strategists and
opportunists, with Naheed responsible for the portfolio, while Faisel
cares for training and development and acts as the face of their
Although the Shariffs own businesses under a corporate profile, they
run it like a mom and pop shop, says Naheed. All four of their
locations have achieved platinum status, a quality assurance audit of
service, staff and product given by Boston Pizza. The hands-on family
management style fosters a sense of generosity and teamwork through
various charitable initiatives.
“About three years ago my mom was approached by a chair of the Kids
with Cancer charity, so every Tuesday and Thursday we began delivery to
the University of Alberta Hospital, donating food to the families,
parents and the kids receiving cancer treatment,” says Naheed. This
prompted the family to want to do more.
Leveraging the existing notoriety of Boston Pizza’s February paper
hearts campaign, the Shariffs developed paper teddy bears and sold them
for a $1. They raised $17,000 for Kids with Cancer.
Part of the success of the campaign was in motivating the staff, notes
Naheed. The Shariffs showed their employees where the money was going
and even brought some of the cancer patients in to talk to them. On
their own accord, their staff decided to donate their Friday tips and
manager’s their wages. The Shariffs answered by matching the amounts.
This year they sold bracelets and teddy bears, raising $35,000.
“I think if the owners do it, it reflects on the staff that it’s not only being done by them, but by the owners too.”
The Shariff sense of giving has extended to the home-front, where Naheed’s seven-year-old daughter opted on her own to donate all of her birthday presents this year to Kids with Cancer.
The sense of generosity has helped form the basis for good employee
retention. One general manager has been with them for 17 years, and
Naheed says he has another kitchen manager passing the 25 year mark.
His father Nash also helped the business grow by using his trade to aid
employees with their investment decisions, fostering a sense of good
will and morale in the staff.
“We are creating a community and a culture of charity.”
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