In response to Vinnie V.'s philippic re: Johnny's Burgers, I noted that you were
paying half the price that you paid for a burger at Toby's. I also noted that I worked
across the street at a Texaco gas station, and Johnny's provided many dinners, not
only for me, but for the mechanics, shift boss, and others. Well, today, I was in
"downtown" North York (sorry, Mel, it ain't happening), and decided to have lunch
at the Toby's outlet in the Empress Centre (Yonge, about halfway between Finch
Let's start with the positives: stumbling in from 37+ humidex heat, it was cool and
comfortable. I was greeted and seated within 30 seconds. The waiter was friendly
and prompt. The bathrooms were clean and odour-free. Now, let's consider the
I'm low carbing these days (diabetes sucks!), so I ordered the "Keeping Fit", which
was a bare burger with onion, lettuce, and tomato, and my choice of salad. Since
my normal choice back in the day was "Toby's Courage" (a chili burger), I ordered
it with chili as a topping. I chose the Greek salad.
The Greek salad contained 2 olives, 4 slices of tomato, a few shreds of feta, lots of
lettuce, a little onion, and a dressing that tasted more Italian than Greek. But, since
I like all kinds of salad, this was fine with me.
The burger patty was surprisingly small (half the size of Johnny's), and unlike the "Courage" burgers I remember from my youth, where the chili ran up, down, and sideways
over the burger, this one had a mingy serving of 2-3 tablespoons. The chili was bland
beyond belief, and the burger was about three "wells" past well-done. I had to get to a
meeting, so sending it back was not an option (and being diabetic, going without food
for 16 hours wasn't either; I'd skipped breakfast to get to an early meeting.) I actually
asked for ketchup and mustard (on a chili burger?!) it was so dry.
Beverages? My first question was "Coke or Pepsi?". "Pepsi" said the waiter with just
a hint of pride. "Ice water", I replied. Later, I had coffee, which, like the chili, was to be
noted for its blandness.
The damage? $8.25 for the "Keeping Fit", plus $1.75 for the chili, plus $1.75 for the coffee. With tax, $13.40, with tip, $15.00.
So forget the tip, and assume I'd just had the Toby's Courage with fries and coffee. That would have been ($8.95 + $1.75) *1.14 = $12.20. Value for money spent compared to Johnny's? Pretty low, IMHO.
Yes, Johnny's has no seating other picnic tables where you are under constant attack
from brazen seagulls. You don't get to sit in a comfortable atmosphere, or be waited on
a professional server. On the other hand, burger, fries, and coffee at Johnny's sets you
back less than $6. Is Toby's worth twice the price? Years ago, I would have said "Yes",
but based on today's experience, I'd say "Nuh-uh".
And here's the final reason I love Johnny's; after I left university, I moved to Ottawa to work for a telecom firm there. I came back to visit my parents, and decided to drop in to Johnny's after not being there for at least 3-4 years. I came in wearing a blazer, tie, etc.
John was working the counter. He looked at me for about 10 seconds, and then said,
"Hey, Texaco, cheeseburger?".