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Attention downtown burger fiends: Five Guys is now open at Yonge and Dundas

Ever since Five Guys announced its expansion into Toronto, the city’s burger fiends (and there are many of them) have been champing at the bit for a taste of the Virginia-based chain’s signature smashed patties. On Sunday, the Yonge and Dundas location opened its doors, and it’s been mostly packed ever since, despite locations in Don Mills and Mississauga which have been open for some time now. Five Guys has already dominated the “better burger” market in the States (it has over 1,000 locations), but with a new burger joint opening every other week or so in Toronto, it’ll have its work cut out for it.

Five Guys, 329 Yonge St., 416-591-0404, fiveguys.ca, @Five_Guys

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Slider Revolution hopes to bring an uprising of tiny burgers to the Danforth

Sliders, those tiny little burgers on their tiny little buns, have long been a fixture of catering menus in Toronto, but they haven’t really made their mark in restaurants. Richard Lee hopes to change that with his upcoming Danforth restaurant Slider Revolution. Lee, whose background is in sales and finance rather than food, worked on the ill-fated project to bring Wolfgang Puck to Toronto (there have been rumours and rumblings of a Puck outpost here for years, but a restaurant never materialized). Given that a new burger joint seems to open about every five minutes in Toronto (here are the best 25), Lee tells us, “Hell, yeah, I think we need a slider restaurant.” Instead of simply serving tiny patties of ground chuck, Lee will be offering fillings like pulled pork, chicken, meatball and veggies, in barbecue, jerk, bulgogi, Italian and other flavours. The restaurant is slated to be open for business sometime in October.

Slider Revolution, 673 Danforth Ave., sliderrevolution.com

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Big Smoke Burger to open a flagship location… in Manhattan

Coming soon to the Big Apple (Image: Calgary Reviews)

As Five Guys readies its expansion into downtown Toronto, Big Smoke Burger is getting set to open a Manhattan flagship store by the end of the year, according to a post on Grub Street. This mirror-image expansion sort of makes sense, given that both burger chains have turned to Fransmart, a franchise consulting company, for help. An expansion to Chicago is also on the horizon, bringing the total planned stateside locations of Big Smoke to a staggering 50. The last Toronto chain to move stateside was Rawlicious, which made a move to Soho earlier this year (early reports are cautiously optimistic). [Grub Street]

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How Five Guys dominated the “better burger” market

(Image: Mustafa Khayat)

Five Guys Burgers and Fries, the cult-favourite U.S. burger chain, has already set up shop in Scarborough and Don Mills, and is getting ready to open up its first downtown location at 329 Yonge St. later this year. The latest issue of Forbes has a fascinating article that breaks down how the company has managed to take a colossal bite out of the American burger market. Based out of Virginia, the chain has grown a whopping 792 per cent since 2006, and counts 1,039 stores under its name (it’s set to open another 1,500 in the U.S. and Canada). The uber-expansion is part of North America’s growing appetite for “better burgers” restaurants, i.e. those ”fast casual” spots selling patties in the $8 range. In the U.S., better burgers are a $2.2 billion industry, and Five Guys accounts for about half of that market. Part of their success is based on their simplicity: the sparse menu doesn’t go far beyond burgers, fries, hot dogs and the odd veggie sandwich. CEO and founder Jerry Murrell contends most franchises lose it when they over-expand their offerings. Of course, downtown Toronto is already saturated in “better burgers”—indeed, there’s a Big Smoke a couple dozen metres away from the new Five Guys spot. And there are all of these too. Read the entire story [Forbes] »

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Grindhouse Burger Bar bites the dust—for now at least

Three cheers for Grindhouse and #loserkaraoke (Image: Jason Baker)

King West’s burger and karaoke bar Grindhouse is no more. The former gluten-free, vegetarian, and regular ol’ meat burger joint is up for lease due to non-payment of rent, according to a note on the door. The staff seems to be taking the news well, however: the glass-half-full kinda folk have been keeping their spirits high with visits to Ottawa’s Bluesfest, tweeting such optimistic thoughts as “no work, might as well play!” They hope to reopen in the future. [The Grid]

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The latest escalation in the burger wars: New York’s $666 Douche Burger

(Image: Mackenzie Keegan)

From New York City comes news of a burger so expensive, it makes M:brgr’s $100 offering (remember that?) seem entirely affordable. Introducing: the Douche burger, an aptly named $666 Kobe beef patty loaded with melted Gruyère, foie gras, lobster, caviar and truffles, then wrapped in six sheets of gold leaf (gold, by the way, turns out to be entirely flavourless but edible). In an interview with Bloomberg Businessweek, Franz Aliquo, co-owner of 666 Burger food truck, told the magazine that the idea for the monstrosity arose during a conversation about over-embellished burgers with his girlfriend: “[She said] somebody should just make a burger and pile all the rich people stuff on it and it would be the douchiest thing in the world. So we’re like, Yeah! We’re gonna do it.” The interview also confirms that the burger is a complete joke, a dig at the level of ridiculousness some gourmet burgers have risen to. Naturally, one person has actually ordered it, but Aliquo is not one to turn people away: “I’ll tell you that you’re an a—hole, but I’m still going to take your money.” [Slate]

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Openings

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Introducing: The Works on the Danforth, the first Toronto location of the cult fave Ottawa burger chain

Danforth franchisee Zaki Zahur with CEO, president and chief burgerhead Andy O’Brien (Image: Karolyne Ellacott)

After 10 years in the burger biz, The Works has finally made it to Toronto. Hailing from the nation’s capital, the award-winning chain with an impassioned following is now set to give the city’s million other burger joints a run for their money. The Danforth spot is the first on the map, with other Hogtown locations already in the works (no pun intended). We met up with Danforth franchisee Zaki Zahur and CEO and “chief burgerhead” Andy O’Brien to get the scoop on the eatery and its 70 burgers.

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Openings

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Introducing: Stack, uptown’s new barbecue restaurant (complete with a huge smoker)

(Image: Karolyne Ellacott)

“Anybody can do a good burger,” says Todd Savage, co-owner of Stack, uptown’s answer to Barque. “But being the pit master is a real art form.” Indeed, Savage and his high-school buddy from “about 400 years ago,” Bill Panos, originally intended to devote their new restaurant to on-trend burgers, but ended up deciding it was important to have more options, especially for a family-friendly spot.

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Restaurants

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All-Beef Party: Toronto’s 25 best burgers ranked in order of heart-stopping, messy magnificence

25 BEST BURGERS

Nine years ago, Mark McEwan scandalized Torontonians with his $35 truffled Bymark burger. That was before words like “grass-fed,” “heritage” and “dry-aged” entered into the burger lexicon. The city is now crammed with craft burgers, and carnivores no longer flinch at steep price tags. Competitive chefs bring in whole cows from nearby farms, bake their own buns, smoke their own bacon (twice), replace ketchup with tomato chutney and source the most pungent cheeses they can get their patty-flipping hands on. Thankfully, the mom-and-pop shops haven’t been artisinalled out of business—there are still plenty of sublime greasy-bag burgers around, as well as a few new-school diners ironically replicating them. Here, the very best of the city’s boundless burgerdom.

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Random Stuff

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VIDEO: Pizza Hut Middle East debuts pizza with cheeseburger crust (no, really)

We thought Pizza Hut was pushing the bounds of postmodernist pizza innovation with its Cheesy Bites pie. We were wrong. The lucky folks in the Middle East now have exclusive access to the cheeseburger Crown Crust pizza, a new creation whose crust is made up of, you guessed it, cheeseburgers. The whole thing is topped with lettuce, tomatoes and “special sauce,” and there’s also a version with chicken fillets for the beef-averse. What will they think up next? A pizza crusted with little tiny pizzas? [Eater]

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Where to Eat Now 2012: Vote on the 10 trends in dining that we love and hate

Where to Eat Now 2012: Vote on the 10 trends we love/hate

We picked out ten trends that helped define dining in Toronto in 2012, and pronounced whether we loved them, hated them or had a love-hate relationship with them. Now you can have your say.

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Restaurants

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Where to Eat Now 2012: 10 trends in dining that we love and hate (or have a love-hate relationship with)

Where to Eat Now 2012: 10 Trends We Love/Hate

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Restaurants

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Where to Eat Now 2012: the 10 top food trucks in the GTA

Flavour of the Year 2012: A Movable Feast

This year, a fleet of new trucks raised street food standards in the GTA. Trouble is, they’re always on the move. Here, the top 10 and their Twitter handles (so you’ll never miss another taco, burger or brownie).

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Long E. coli blacklist gets slightly shorter with the removal of three popular brands

Now that the simple pleasure of a good old-fashioned PC Thick and Juicy comes with the risk of contracting an E. coli infection, news of any bacteria-free burger is something of a blessing. The gastronomic sleuths at the Canadian Food Inspection Agency have removed three products from the E. coli blacklist:

• Lick’s Beef Burger: 612 g, UPC 0 29345 70037 2

• Lick’s Homeburger Beef Burger: 9.18 kg, product code 55255

• PC Thick and Juicy Sirloin Burger: 1.13 kg, UPC 0 60383 64238 9

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New Food Classics, the company behind the E. coli recalls, in the middle of bankruptcy proceedings 

Lost in much of the talk about E. coli-laced burgers (and confusion over what, exactly, a steakette is), was the news that New Food Classics, the Burlington meat processor behind the recall, is in the middle of bankruptcy proceedings. While many of the company’s products have been flagged for potential contamination, that’s only a small portion of what they’re struggling with. The Hamilton Spectator reports that the company has closed an office in Calgary and plants in St. Catharines and Saskatoon, and sought creditor protection before looking for a buyer to bail it out. Of the 22 would-be bidders, only one actually made an offer after seeing the company’s statements. So is it just the bad meat that’s dragging the company down? Hardly. The Spectator says bankruptcy documents indicate that “the company was hobbling as its beef and energy costs climbed in 2010 and 2011 while it was locked into price contracts with customers such as Loblaw, Metro, Sobeys, Walmart and food supply giant Sysco Canada.” In case that doesn’t make the situation clear enough, when the Spec sought comment from NFC yesterday, they didn’t hear back. The phones lines might have been busy all day—but they might have simply been disconnected. Read the entire story [The Hamilton Spectator] »

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