Longo’s opens its 25th grocery store.

 A family grocery chain that came to Mississauga as an outdoor market some 45 years ago  has grown to 25 stores across the province.

Business is booming. Anthony Longo tours his new store in Leaside. The family grocery chain is a Mississauga favourite. Toronto Star photo

The family-owned Longo’s chain is in expansion mode, having more than doubled its number of stores in the GTA since 2000. The new 48,000-sq.-ft. Leaside store opens today, bringing the number of Longo’s stores in Ontario to 25.

CEO Anthony Longo’s father opened the first store on Yonge. St. in Toronto in 1956. The family lived upstairs.

The Longos moved their base of operations to an open-air market at the four corners in Malton in 1967.

Longo’s opened its first real supermarket at Goreway Dr. and Derry Rd. in 1980. It closed in September 2008 but the chain still has three stores in Mississauga, where it was based for many years.

In all, 14 family members work full-time in the business.

“As a family, we set out to decide, how far do we want to grow? We decided we’ll stop when we can’t execute great stores anymore. I don’t know when that is,” said Longo.

Longo said the competition in the grocery market is “very fierce.” Despite that, there is room for growth, he said. In the GTA, groceries is a $13-billion a year business.

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