Owner Of Gravenhurst Tim Hortons Sells Franchises After 32 Years

Gravenhurst Tim Hortons
Patti Watson, Ashley Hrinkanic and her daughter Rachel, and Jeff Watson on Camp Day. Photo courtesy of Jeff Watson

Jeff Watson, owner of the two Gravenhurst Tim Hortons for the last 32 years, has sold both franchise locations as of Dec. 14.

Watson started his career with Tim Hortons in July 1986 with his first franchise in Windsor. Five years later, he bought the two locations in Gravenhurst. In the years since then, the stores have hosted dozens of events supporting local causes like the Salvation Army Food Bank, Muskoka Victim Services, Muskoka schools and more. Watson has many fond memories ranging from giving away a car to posing with the Stanley Cup alongside hockey player Kyle Clifford, but after working since the age of 13, he’s ready to step back.

“I’m 67 years old, and I’ve done this for 37 years,” Watson said. “They always say, ‘You know when it’s time.’ And I woke up one day and said, ‘Yeah. It’s time.’”

Running the Tim Hortons locations in Gravenhurst has been a “family affair” in more ways than one. Watson’s daughter Ashley Hrinkanic has been operating the stores for the last few years and doing a wonderful job, he said. While she’ll be going into a different line of work after the sale, running the business alongside his child has been a rare and amazing experience.

In addition to working with his own family, Watson employed multiple generations of Muskoka families. He became personally connected to many staff members and their loved ones over the years.

Ashley Hrinkanic and Jeff Watson. Photo courtesy of Jeff Watson

“It’s just been so rewarding to see these kids go on and have families of their own,” he said. “We’ve had two and three generations of families come through the store as team members, and if I were to feel anything as rewarding as all the things that we’ve done, it’s having the legacy of saying it’s been wonderful to work alongside the kids have come through Gravenhurst over the last 32 years.”

Along with supporting charities and service groups through the Smile Cookie program, Camp Day and other events, Watson has also been heavily involved in the community at large. He spent eight years with the Gravenhurst Fire Department, served three terms on council, and was a member of the Rotary Club and Masonic Lodge. 

During his time on council, he acted as deputy mayor and helped establish the Gravenhurst Sports Hall of Fame. He also worked as an instructor at the Ontario Fire College before the province decommissioned it in 2021.

Watson has no immediate plans other than to continue officiating roughly 20 to 30 weddings annually, something he’s done on the side for a few years now. He looks forward to making more connections with Muskoka families through his wedding officiant business, and he’s grateful for and humbled by all the support from the community over the last three decades.

“We’ve been able to work under the umbrella of a great brand, and we’re happy for the new owners,” Watson said. “We wish them nothing but continued success, and hopefully, the Gravenhurst community will embrace them as they have done my family for the past 32 years.”


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