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Introducing: Leslieville Pumps, Toronto’s only barbecue joint that’s also a gas station

Brothers Greg Flom (Chief Tasting Officer) and Judson Flom (chef) (Image: Karolyne Ellacott)

Bringing something novel to jaded Torontonians is a pretty tall order. By the looks of it, though, that’s just what brothers Greg and Judson Flom have done with Leslieville Pumps, an east-end establishment that blurs the lines between independent gas station, general store and, yes, barbecue sandwich shop. Says Greg, “We really wanted to create an environment and experience that Toronto hasn’t yet seen.”

A few years ago, while Greg was “living the life” in Vancouver, Judson was working on a midtown restaurant opening that never quite got off the ground. Despite a background in higher-end food—honed at Oliver and Bonacini and The Chef Upstairs—Judson’s true love has always been barbecue. “My smoker has always been my baby,” he says. When the life-long entrepreneurs—who got their start selling candy at recess—heard that a station was for sale, they jumped on it, basing their concept loosely on Oklahoma Joe’s in Kansas City. A gas station since 1957, the Queen East building required a complete do-over. Inspired by the look of Kawartha cottages where their childhood summers were spent, they engaged carpenter Lucas Kanup to custom-build everything, using cottage country wood. Inside, the space is full of kitschy details: tabletops house old photographs and newspaper clippings; vending machines resemble vintage gas pumps; cottagey knick-knacks sit high up on shelves; custom-made retro Pepsi-Cola signs mark their fridges. And, of course, out front there’s a pair of red Muskoka chairs, providing a view of the pumps which, we’re told, pump gas at least 2.5 cents cheaper than elsewhere.

While the station is open 24/7, the kitchen itself runs from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m., with the brisket being a particular point of pride: the beef is smoked for 14 hours using a mix of hickory and cherry hardwood and cubed till it’s falling apart. Piled onto a fresh bun, it’s then topped with crispy sweet onions, grainy mustard and  house barbecue sauce ($7.74). A smoked salmon bagel is made using cold-smoked fish from Hooked, dill cream cheese, red onions and capers ($5.84). Fries are fresh-cut, and have been given the 45-minute post-fry taste test—essential, we’re told, for take-out orders ($2.99). Finally, for night owls, there’s an authentic late-night curry, courtesy of Sri Lankan staff member Mary.

Leslieville Pumps, 929 Queen St. East, 416-465-1313, leslievillepumps.com, @LPumps

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This is not a review.
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  • opl

    Too cool!!! I’m yes to the food but wondering who supplies them their gas.

  • Justina

    Everything so attractive. I wish it was close to my work place so that I can go there for lunch every day. But I will go there sometimes during the weekend.

  • Don

    Thank Toronto Life introducing this lovely place to us. We’ll try.

  • DR

    LOVE this place, I eat there way too often!

  • Geoff Pridie

    Amazing pulled pork sandwich, and a cheery cottage country feel right in the city!!

  • Brian

    Oh no – the secret is out! You won’t be disappointed.

  • Darpan

    Fabulous gas station I’ve ever been to plus super dilicious pulled pork and chicken sandwiches.

  • FAT CHANCE

    I LOVE IT.Can not wait to try it.

  • Jmy

    Yummy, but WAAAAAY overpriced. If they dropped the price from $8 for a sandwich to $5, I would be a frequent visitor. Tiny sandwich, crappy poutine for $13 take out from a gas station? Drop the prices.. this place would be packed.

  • Anna F.

    What a transformation – it was such a sad, wretched variety store before they turned the decor all hipster country general store. The sandwiches are delicious – the poutine, not so much. I do wish they had better hours, especially since the gas station is open 24 hr. Why not open from 8am to 10pm instead of 6am to 8pm?

  • Sara

    BEST PLACE EVER! SO AWESOME! Love the owners to, pretty awesome people from what I can see!

  • lol

    FINALLY, artisan gas!

  • Patrick

    Breakfast Sandwhich
    Breakfast Sandwhich
    Breakfast Sandwhich!

  • James

    So, is it Oklahoma or Kansas City style? Maybe it’s Carolina, Texas, Virginia, Memphis, California or some other hybrid variation? Necessary info.

  • Stephanie L

    As a business owner in the area I am so pleased to see this gas station take a new turn. It is clean, charming, and a great addition to Queen East. Leslieville has a unique charm that is hard to find and the more independent business we introduce and support the better!

    This place is amazing! The food is fantastic (especially the brisket and pulled pork) and the owners/staff always greet you with a smile. The prices may seem high to some but are completely in line with the area. Not to mention free parking and cheap gas! It is a no brainer really!

    Check it out – you won’t be disappointed.

  • Anonymous

    Tried both the beef and the pork with my partner the other day and whilst they were good sandwiches, $17 with tax is a bit steep when it was mostly bun.
    Also watch out if you pay for your gas with cash, they like to keep the change unless you ask for it back.

  • Chris Macdonald

    Great concept…make gas stations fun. Nice work!

  • Joy

    Cheerful and delicious…the venue, the food,and the friendly, happy owners.
    Worth the drive and the stop.

  • jeff316

    Love the artisan gas comment

  • 90sBrooklyn

    Do you also swear to everyone that your not a hipster?

  • wab

    Just had the beef brisket sandwich to go – it was disappointing. The meat was too dry, the house BBQ sauce and grainy mustard was almost not there. They could triple the amount of these and it would be good. And the same goes for the crispy onions – more please. I go there all the time for gas and I like what is being attempted here by the new owners, but don’t skimp on the condiments – that doesn’t win go-backs for more. I would have asked for more if I had eaten it there, but it was a take-home. I will try a different sandwich again – I hope it is a better one than this time.

  • wab

    I just went back for gas and food. The gas was about 3 cents less than any other gas station nearby. That’s good. This time I got the pulled pork sandwich. It was GREAT!! Lots of meat, I asked for extra BBQ sauce, and their cole slaw is just right – mayo and vinegar combined with more variety of vegys in a cole slaw than I usually find – and I there were mustard seeds in there too – very nice. You will find the cole slaw in the sandwich, but I got a container of cole slaw on the side too. While I was there I met Greg and Judson and you couldn’t meet nicer guys – and they were interested in all my comments. In spite of my earlier comments here about the beef brisket sandwich, I highly recommend giving the Leslieville Pumps and General store and Kitchen a try – a welcome innovation in Leslieville. Way to go Greg and Judson.

  • Bruce

    Don’t go for the coffee, they just don’t have that consistently right.

  • Bruce

    Don’t go for the coffee, they just don’t seem to have it consistently right. Some days it is on and others it taste like sewer water. Good attempt at something different, now they need to follow through on quality.

  • http://www.facebook.com/zack2the.G Zack Gilbert

    I eat there a couple times a week. Their arrival in the hood is simultaneously the best and worst thing to happen to me. Great for my taste buds not so gr8 for my belt line. It is so good sometimes I catch myself just daydreaming about it. If you love BBQ the brisket sandwich will be your new best friend. Best sanni in Toronto hands down. Wonderful staff. Want something a little different or special? They’ll hook you right up-just ask. All around amazing BBQ experience.

 

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