Mohamad Fakih is a man who understands the value of a good sparkle.

As the founder of Paramount Fine Foods, Fakih has always emphasized a level of cleanliness in the chain’s restaurants to meet any parent’s discerning approval.

It’s a love for sparkle he likely first developed working as a gemologist in Lebanon before emigrating to Canada in 1999. 

Arriving through Pearson International Airport, Fakih knew if he was going to succeed, he’d have to hustle, taking whatever initial jobs came his way, and parlay that into his next opportunity.

He worked the counter at Coffee Time. He slung double doubles at Tim Horton’s. And he manned a watch kiosk at Sherway Gardens where some of that Fakih sparkle attracted the attention of another shop worker, his now-wife, Hanan.

Just a year after arriving, Fakih was manager with La Swisse, a jewerly store chain and soon after he was managing 14 kiosks across the GTA.

It looked like Fakih was set to build a career in Canada using his skills as a gemologist – but life had other plans.

In 2006, Hanan and Fakih were going out with friends and wanted to bring along something that spoke of their Lebanese culture.

Baklava, thought Hanan, and so she sent Fakih out to get some from a little place she knew.

An architect’s design for a Wartime Housing Limited home in Victory Village. (Photo credit: Region of Peel Archives)

She directed Fakih to Paramount, a Lebanese restaurant she knew of around Dixie Road and Eglington Ave. 

The place had seen better days and someone, recognizing Fakih and knowing his story from a recent magazine profile, pointed him out to the exhausted owner, who promptly asked Fakih for a loan to stave off imminent closure.

 Fakih left with a box of baklava; the owner got Fakih’s business card, and promptly called Fakih on Monday morning.

After thinking about it, Fakih agreed to loan the man $250,000 – but soon after receiving the money the owner called Fakih and told him there was additional debt and the business was going to close.

He offered to give Fakih the money from the sale of the equipment to recoup some of his days-old investment.

Fakih had other ideas.

He thought about what had brought him to Paramount in the first place. While he and his wife were proud of their Lebanese culture, they were frustrated that there was no place for them to take friends to celebrate and embrace the best of Lebanese culture.

He wanted a bit of the Lebanese sparkle he knew so well to be on display in his new home.

Unable to find it, Fakih decided to create it.

Fakih decided to take over the business and in 2007 relaunched following renovations. Shortly after that Mississauga Mayor Hazel McCallion came in for a shawarma. 

Thinking back on that day, Fakih wrote in his Toronto Star tribute to Hazel after she died; “She said, ‘Make every day count’ – and even now, I think of that advice every morning.”  

 Paramount Fine Foods expanded rapidly, buoyed by the popularity of Fakih’s vision for serving family-style Middle Eastern dishes in family-friendly environments complete with entertainment for children.  

Today Paramount operates restaurants across Canada and the United States, with locations in England and Pakistan. 

Fakih’s philanthropy is as noteworthy as his business success.  

In the wake of the 2017 Quebec City mosque shooting, he paid for the victims’ funerals and mosque repairs.  

That same year he provided hotel rooms for the homeless during severe weather conditions and has continuously supported efforts to get families off the streets. 

In 2018 Mississauga’s sports complex was renamed the Paramount Centre. 

Fakih was welcomed into Missisauga’s Legend’s Row in 2018. 

In 2021, he was recognized as Canadian CEO of the Year, by the Ontario Chamber of Commerce the Globe and Mail named him Corporate Citizen of the Year. 

Fakih was appointed to the Order of Canada in 2022. 

Through his dedication to help others has you rise, Fakih Fakih has helped to build this city.

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