Behind every St-Hubert franchise lies a typical family with a history of their own. In Cornwall, Ontario, that family is Karen McMillan and Lloyd Lalonde’s. The couple purchased the franchise from Karen’s parents almost 25 years ago.
Karen’s story with St-Hubert goes way back. Her family opened the restaurant in Cornwall in July 1981. Right after graduating from her boarding school in Lennoxville, she drove her family’s convertible to St-Hubert’s training facility in Montreal. “For most people, after high school it’s party time. Not for me!” she says.
Karen worked at the restaurant for two years before getting married and moving to Ottawa. She and her husband returned to Cornwall and had two children, a daughter now 34 and a son now 32. After her divorce, Karen purchased a frozen food franchise in 1990 and managed it for 23 years until selling it in 2013.
A Strong Partnership at Home and Work
In November 1997, after Karen’s mom passed away from cancer, she purchased the franchise with her second husband, Lloyd Lalonde. For the last 24 years, Lloyd has shouldered the responsibility of managing this venture with Karen while also working as a firefighter. He retired from the Cornwall Fire Department in June 2021 after 25 years of service.
With so many irons in the fire, the secret to the couple’s success is that they each have their own area of expertise. Lloyd deals with the equipment and building maintenance while Karen works on the marketing, meetings and management. This system makes for a great partnership.
Karen, Lloyd and their team have won 10 excellence awards at the St-Hubert Gala from 2007 to 2018. To keep the team spirit up, the couple threw an employee appreciation night every year after the gala. To add to the anticipation, they would keep their standing a secret until it was announced that evening. The cash prize won would then be distributed amongst the staff.
The St-Hubert in Cornwall is a multigenerational family business in more ways than one. Some employees have been working with Karen and Lloyd for a long time. Top of the list is their general manager Debbie, who has been with St-Hubert for 29 years. “Debbie’s mother Shirley started working in the kitchen in 1998 and her daughter followed suit in 2018. Three generations working under the same roof in this business is quite amazing!” says Karen.
Karen explains that consistency is key for both employees and customers. “The bottom line is that if you satisfy your customers, they’ll keep coming back. If everyone does their best, then everyone wins and we continue to see customers returning after 40 years.”
A Franchise Making a Difference in The Health of The Cornwall Community
Karen and Lloyd strive to help the community flourish and are generous with their donations. They donated $40,000 to the Cornwall Community Hospital as well as $15,000 to the new Benson Centre sports facility. Carefor Hospice Cornwall, United Way and Rachel’s Kids have also been recipients of donations the past few years.
For two decades, the restaurant was the corporate sponsor of the St-Hubert MS Golf tournament. “We were donating half chicken meals for 200-220 people every year to the biggest tournament in town at the time,” says Karen.
How would you describe the great St-Hubert family?
“You have the strength of the franchise behind you. When you go to any St-Hubert, you know what to expect, the same quality food and friendly service. And in unexpected times, like in a pandemic, it’s really nice to have the support of the franchisor behind you rather than trying to navigate it by yourself.”
With all of the consistency, hard work and devotion exhibited by Karen, Lloyd and their team, it’s no surprise that the St-Hubert franchise in Cornwall continues to be a success year after year.