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From the Caribbean to Canada: Why this couple opened a Chatime bubble tea store in Bolton

When Dovelin Hawthorne was younger, he never imagined his life in Canada would be what it is today.

Growing up in a small town in Hanover, Jamaica the community didn’t have a lot of resources or money. He had no electricity, no technology, and kids would go to school barefoot.

Since immigrating in 1992, Dovelin has become a front-line service worker, a father of two, and now co-owner with his wife Allison Hawthorne of Chatime, a bubble tea franchise, in Bolton.

“To be given the opportunity to open a Chatime bubble tea store in Bolton, it’s an extreme blessing that I can say I’ve been given more than I’ve asked for.”

The two have always dreamed of opening their own business. They wanted something that was like a café but would pay homage to their Caribbean roots.

Allison is from St. Lucia and since Dovelin is from Jamaica, they are no strangers to tea. It was a part of their everyday life from a young age.

Despite having no background in the food industry, they opened Chatime in Aug. 2021 at 301 Queen St. S. in Bolton.

Being residents in Bolton for 16 years, choosing this location was a no-brainer for the Hawthornes.

“Bolton being a fast-growing community, diverse community and an accepting community, I thought it would be the perfect place to introduce Chatime,” said Dovelin.

Since opening in the midst of COVID-19 shutdowns, they have faced additional challenges.

They wanted to have a large grand opening that summer that had to be scaled down, and as soon as Dovelin felt the community was starting to get to know Chatime, the Omicron wave happened.

He said they struggled through this wave. They saw sales reduce and couldn’t afford to hire more staff they needed.

During this time, Allison worked 14 to 15 hours a day for 22 days straight covering the job of what multiple people would do.

“That sacrifice is just unbelievable,” said Dovelin. “These are the sacrifices that kept us going through COVID.”

What he lives by is a saying from Viktor E. Frankl, author of ‘Man’s Search for Meaning’, who said in the book, “Those who have a ‘why’ to live, can bear with almost any ‘how’.”

For Dovelin and Allison, their “why” is giving back to their community no matter what it takes.

Their goals for Chatime are to serve their community that has served them for all these years, have transactions become interactions, and be able to share their story and culture.

“If I can get to this place, at this time, coming from where I’m coming from, anyone can accomplish the same thing and even more.”

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