John Bitove Sr. Dies


TORONTO — John Bitove, Sr., founder of Toronto’s Bitove Group passed away recently at the age of 87. Born to Macedonian immigrants in 1928, Bitove built a lasting empire of foodservice companies, starting with the Java Shop, which he opened at the age of 18, and evolving to become one of the largest foodservice companies in Canada with such banners as Big Boy and Roy Rogers in the 1970s and then larger projects such as the SkyDome, now Rogers Centre, and Pearson Airport, where the family held the catering rights.

While his business acumen was instrumental in the company’s success, Bitove was also an active supporter of various charities, which he always believed was his calling in life — helping others less fortunate than him. Bitove also served as a director of the Royal Ontario Museum and as the Ontario Chairman of the British Commonwealth Games of 1986 and was honoured with the Order of Canada in 1989.

Bitove leaves a lasting legacy. He is survived by his wife Dotsa, to whom he was married for 66 years, and his five children: Vonna, Nick, Tom, John Jr. and Jordon as well as 16 grandchildren.

A celebration of life will take place in the fall; details will be announced in the fall.

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