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Soft opening planned for new Iqaluit take-out restaurant and general grocery store

A new take-out eatery and general grocery store named Hunter's Market opens its doors Tuesday morning in the capital.

The shelves are stocked and the kitchen is almost ready to go.

"It's the concept we came up with, to have take-out and have people shop at the same time if they need basics for their house," said Hussein Mahmoud who, with his brother Ali and father Bassam, decided to take the plunge a couple of years ago.

Business partners Hussein Mahmoud, left, and brother Ali Mahmoud pose in front of Hunter's Market in Iqaluit, which will have a soft opening Tuesday, July 9.
Michele LeTourneau/NNSL photo

The patriarch of the family has been in Iqaluit for a decade, while Hussein has travelled back and forth from Ottawa, where he owned gyms. He sold his shares, and invested in Iqaluit, with his family.

"I didn't want to fully do a restaurant, and me and my brother wanted a store, more than a restaurant because, to be honest, it's less maintenance. I grew up in restaurants because of my dad and I've always leaned away from them because of the quality of life," said Hussein.

The sons also wanted to offer their father an opportunity to supervise a kitchen.

"He's in his 60s now, and we wanted to give him something that was his. He'll make sure everything's up to par and running properly. For now, this is mostly for my dad."

A death in the family took Bassam out of town, and the grand opening is being planned for when he returns.

"For the soft opening, we'll be doing pizza slices, breakfast sandwiches all day, and sandwiches," said Hussein.

"And when my dad gets back we'll have a grand opening, with a full-blown menu."

That menu is: breakfast until 10:30, breakfast sandwiches all day, Greek food – mainly beef and chicken, and possibly lamb, skewer dishes and gyro wraps – pizza, club sandwiches, and burgers.

Hussein explains the new establishment's name: "It's my (three-year-old) son's name and we're also half Aboriginal, we're Mi'kmaq. I just though thought, in both ways, it was proper. And there are a lot of hunters here."

The family has connections in Pangnirtung for char filets, which is also on the menu.

"We're also going to sell some in the freezer. Country food is kind of like when you can get it, so when we get it we will be putting some in the freezer for sale," said Hussein.

He also plans on having a small area where he can sell fishing supplies and other items people might need to go out on the land.

Hussein has trademarked the name and is pondering the possibility of branching out into other Nunavut communities.

"You definitely need the right business partners for that, people from the area. In my first venture, with the gym, we did open multiple locations. Those things just sort of happen, people come into your life. If they see what you're doing, they might have opportunities elsewhere. You have to let things flow," he said.

"But right now, the concentration is here."

Hussein was expecting a letter from the fire marshall Monday afternoon and, with that final paperwork in hand, the brothers would be set to open at 7:00 a.m. July 9.