After enjoying great success on a quiet stretch of Queen East, Toronto’s hottest burger joint is preparing for an uptown expansion.
Nestled beside an Asian fusion restaurant on a strip of Yonge Street notorious for fickle real estate, the Nona Restaurant—located eight blocks north of Yonge and Lawrence—may seem like an odd place for the second location of Toronto’s hottest burger joint. But for The Burger’s Priest owner Shant Mardirosian, it was an obvious choice. “Without giving away our business strategy, I can say that I’ve had a lot of demand from this area and at the end of the day—being close to Yonge and Sheppard, Yonge and Eg, Leaside, Avenue and Lawrence—it captures a wide audience.”
Having grown up in Los Angeles enjoying simple California-style burgers, Mardirosian wanted to “redeem the burger” for Torontonians and decided to open up The Burger’s Priest in mid-2010 on a lacklustre stretch of Queen East between Leslieville and the Beach. However, its out-of-the-way location didn’t affect the Priest’s popularity and people regularly drive in from all over the city to satisfy their burger craving. “The positive reception has blown away my expectations,” says Mardirosian, who’s even had people visit from Montreal for a taste. “When we opened there were a couple of haters who complained that it wasn’t gourmet—but I never said we were gonna be gourmet. I wanted to open up a fast-food California-style burger joint that, in my opinion, competes with McDonald’s—that’s who I wanna go after.” And with a McDonald’s right across the street from the new location, he’ll be able to go toe-to-toe with Ronald in due time.
In fact, anyone who’s been to The Burger’s Priest knows that the formula is so simple, it’s shocking that it hasn’t perfected before: Mardirosian’s staff grinds their meat in-house multiple times a day and the lightly packed burgers are cooked on a griddle top to medium and then placed on a soft bun with simple condiments. Though Mardirosian is secretive about many aspects of his business, he says we can expect more of the same from the new location. At 1,200 sq. ft., the new restaurant will hold 16 seats, and Mardirosian has confirmed he’s looking to put milkshakes on the menu and, possibly, onion rings.
With the second location set to open in early December, the question now is what’s next for The Burger’s Priest. Before settling on Yonge and Lawrence, Mardirosian considered locations in Toronto’s west end and even out in Port Credit, and these may still be future possibilities. “Let’s see how this one goes,” he says. “I never had any illusions that everything I did would be a success. Lightning struck once, let’s see if it happens again.” That sounds like surprising cautiousness from a guy who sells upwards of 5,000 four-ounce beef patties (for those counting, that’s 1,250 pounds of meat) a week, but perhaps prudence is the key to his success.
The new Burger’s Priest location will open up at 3397 Yonge (Yonge and Teddington Park). Expected opening date is December 1. Business hours are expected to be the same as the original shop.