Behind every St-Hubert franchise lies a typical family with a history of their own. In Quebec City, that family is Groupe Martin’s. After inaugurating the first St-Hubert franchise in 1967, the Martin family now owns 11 St-Hubert restaurants in the Capitale-Nationale area.
The Martin family story begins on July 10, 1967, when the brothers Claude and Marcel Martin launched the very first St-Hubert franchise, a delivery counter on rue des Chênes in Quebec City. From the start, the whole family put in work and their efforts paid off. On March 27, 1979, the first of many dining room restaurants opened in Charlesbourg.
“It all started during a family gathering, when René Léger, co-founder of St-Hubert, told Claude and Marcel in confidence that he wanted to open a restaurant in Quebec City,” says Pierre. Pierre and Denis are Claude’s sons, while Jean and Louis are Marcel’s. All four of them spent their childhood weekends at their grandparents’ while their parents were operating both restaurants. It’s safe to say that they fell in the gravy from a young age. Jean was almost born in a St-Hubert delivery car.
“My mother had to be rushed to the hospital in our delivery car since it was also our only family car,” explains Jean, laughing.
The Martin family now owns 11 franchises and employs more than 1,250 people. From this number, almost 200 of them have been working for more than ten years. Even today, they still have room to welcome new people in their large family.
“Our team is what we cherish the most. To thank everyone for staying by our side, we organize an award night every year, which is sort of our big family party… It’s a very popular special occasion and people are eager to reach their ten years of service to take part in it,” adds Jean.
Three Generations of Entrepreneurs
Pierre, Denis, Jean and Louis were hanging around the family restaurants long before working there. The four of them helped their parents during busy days, portioning sauces, toasting buns and baking fries. It’s only around the age of 14-15 that they officially became employees. Louis even says he had to go through his cousin to get hired by his father, since he thought he was still too young to work.
Today, Pierre, Jean and Louis are the three co-owners of Groupe Martin. As for Denis, he is now head of Martin Dessert, the company behind many of St-Hubert’s famous desserts. Pierre’s children (Clara and Jonathan), Jean’s (Guillaume and Gabrielle) and Louis’ (William and David) also grew up in Quebec City’s rotisseries. They are the third generation of entrepreneurs in the family. The six of them studied in different fields before joining their fathers in the family business.
From donations to honorary presidencies, the Martin family never misses an opportunity to help out their people. Since 2012, they have donated back $200,000 to dozens of charities, such as the Quebec CHU Foundation, the Maison Michel-Sarrazin Foundation and the Lauberivière Foundation. The latter hands out more than 500 St-Hubert meals to people in need every year.
“We don’t serve fancy meals, but they make people happy. The pandemic was proof of that, as we delivered meals to bring a bit of comfort to families. Spreading happiness around us is something we’re always very proud of,” admits Pierre.
How would you describe the great St-Hubert family?
For the three cousins, St-Hubert’s greatest strength is its ability to renew itself and stand the test of time.
“In the beginning, St-Hubert was a small restaurant with a couple of items on the menu. Nowadays, it represents hundreds of restaurants, thousands of jobs and, most of all, a common strength allowing us to overcome any challenge, even a global pandemic,” concludes Pierre.
Louis, Pierre et Jean still have lunch together at their restaurants and love to chat with their employees. Their children are getting more involved in the various franchises’ operations too. Much like their fathers before them, they fell in the gravy when they were small.