Take credit for Tim Hortons in Georgia

Editor’s note: Trevor Williams traveled to Quebec April 25-29 for research on a special report examining the province’s economic and trade ties with Georgia prior to the SEUS/Alliance of Canadian Provinces conference and its return to Savannah in June, 15 years after its founding. The reporting trip was sponsored by the Consulate General of Canada in Atlanta.

There is only one explanation for Tim Hortons advertising 15 locations in Georgia last week: I brought the state vibes north of the border crossing the freeways and sucking up all the fast food joints Quebec had to offer.

Even after crossing Canada on a baseball road trip two decades ago after graduating from high school, I don’t remember visiting the ubiquitous coffee and donut chain (maybe because I don’t hadn’t yet developed my caffeine habit over four years of cram sessions.)

However, my wife – who follows social media a little more closely than I do – told me to stop. Apparently, fans of “Tim” – like those of any top brand – are very loyal and vocal on Instagram and other platforms. As one outlet put it, the chain, founded in 1964, has grown into an “institution” – and which has more than 5,100 locations.

In five days traveling around Quebec, including a few late nights that limited my options, I became something of a connoisseur of Canadian fast food. After midnight in MontrealI made the mistake of buying a prepackaged salad from a cashier without Aisle 24 grocery store. Later, on the road, I tried a burger dad to A&W (we kind of expected it, cane sugar root beer was the star of the meal), ordered the fast food poutine at McDonald’s (don’t) and somehow I kept missing Saint Hubert, the chicken chain that pioneered local delivery in fleets of yellow rooster cars long before Uber Eats arrived.

Stroll between factory visits and the three-hour journey between Montreal and Quebec City, I found time to make a few stops at Tim Hortons. I was happy with my honey donut, passable coffee and a decent crispy chicken wrap in a cardboard container that made it easy to eat with one hand. But I must say that the company will face a much more competitive landscape in the home state of Chick-fil-A than in Quebec, where a Tim Hortons attached to a gas station can sometimes be the only dining option for miles around.

Either way, Atlanta’s thriving franchise scene always has room for new brands, and to find out on the last day that such an iconic brand would grace my two Georgia hometowns — Columbus and Atlanta — with a multitude of new stores seemed a fitting homage to a trip to experience the current flavor of Georgia’s business relationship with Canada.

About Walter Bartholomew

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