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• May 24, 2024

TD is proud to celebrate and support Pan-Asian colleagues and customers across Canada. Throughout the year, we're sharing stories from TD business customers like Chung Chow Lam. Read on to learn about his history and business journey.

Culinary skills run in Chung Chow Lam's blood.

Lam got his start working in the kitchen of his father's restaurant in Hong Kong as a teenager in the 1970s. It was in that kitchen that he was able to hone his talents, which eventually led to opening his very own Hong Kong-style cafe in Canada.

Located in Richmond, B.C., Lido Restaurant opened its doors in 2000, shortly after Lam moved to Canada. What makes Lido Restaurant different are its pineapple buns; soft and sweet pastries topped with a crunchy, crumbly crust. It's this golden-brown, checkered crust – resembling the skin of a pineapple – which gives the bun its name.

Lam started by selling a few pineapple buns a day, but pretty soon, word spread about his delicious freshly baked buns. His restaurant grew into a bustling, neighbourhood staple with constant lines and thousands of buns sold a day – sometimes selling out as soon as they came out of the oven.

"Quality is the key," Lam said. "Every morning, between 7 and 8 a.m., is our busiest time of day. Many of our customers are in a rush, commuting to work. We have to serve their food in a timely manner while maintaining the quality."

Lido has around 20 staff working each shift to make sure its high standards are maintained. While Lido's menu offers a wide-range of items, such as milk tea and "wife cakes" – also known as sweetheart cakes, which are a flaky pastry with sweet winter melon filling – the most popular product is its famous pineapple buns.

Humble beginnings

Lido has earned a reputation across Richmond and Vancouver for its top-quality Hong Kong cuisine, even attracting some famous Hong Kong celebrities, such as comedian Lydia Shum and actor Michael Miu.

But it wasn't always this way. When Lido opened more than two decades ago, Lam had no budget to advertise and relied on word of mouth to build his restaurant's reputation. Lam's small business relationship with TD was key to overcoming early obstacles for a successful opening.

"Everything was difficult at the beginning," he said. "I had no funds and no credit. I really felt the pain of 'nothing can be done without money.' Fortunately, TD gave me a helping hand and was willing to provide funds."

Lam also faced a language barrier when he first moved to Canada. He found having a TD personal banker that spoke his language very helpful in helping him get his business off the ground. By being able to speak to someone who also spoke Cantonese, he felt better able to set himself up for success.

"Banking and financial matters are sometimes very troublesome," Lam said. "It is easier to communicate in Cantonese and cultural communication is also very important, because some Chinese people's ideas about financial planning is not necessarily the same as those of other ethnic groups. TD understood our needs."

A strong relationship

Lido and TD are both prominent fixtures in Richmond. After more than two decades of working together, the business relationship runs deep.

Steven Mai, Account Manager, Small Business Banking and account manager for Lido, has been a key figure in the business relationship over the past six years – particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic, where he helped the restaurant secure loans from both the Highly Affected Sectors Credit Availability Program (HASCAP) and the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) program.

"We've built a great business relationship over the years," Mai said. "It's more of a friendship at this stage. Lam will drop by my office for a chat when he needs something, and we'll see where we can help them. As with all of our clients, we're here to listen and help them wherever we can."

TD is proud to support small businesses along every step of their journey. To find out more and connect with a TD Small Business Account Manager, click here.

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