The Works Gourmet Burger Bistro coming soon to the Danforth

Last week I donned a hard hat with other bloggers, members of the media and local celebrities to taste burgers at what will be the first Toronto location of The Works Gourmet Burger Bistro, still under construction. Greater Toronto Area locations have recently opened in Oakville and Guelph and also not-GTA Kingston and London (the Oakville location did a similar event in November and a media preview lunch when they opened in December).

On what the franchise calls “Burger naming day”, Toronto VIPs including eTalk’s Ben Mulroney, Stefan Brogren of the Degrassi franchise, Kenny Hotz from Kenny vs Spenny, Toronto-Danforth MPP Peter Tabuns and Toronto Argonauts Joe Eppele and Mike Bradwell were there to choose their favourite WORKS burger and name it. I’m so oblivious to celebrities that even though I visited the area where they were eating – they were segregated so that they could do their thing – I didn’t notice them (though I saw the athletes on their way out and wondered who they were). Ben Mulroney had a photo of him taken near where I was sitting.

Those of us at the media table sampled from a choice of two burgers. They were only serving one burger per person but when I ran into fellow blogger Emma Waverman and we discovered that we’d both ordered the “Johnny Be Goat” burger with goat cheese, spinach and roasted red peppers ($12.44), the nice folks at The Works allowed us share the second option. On the Ottawa menu this burger is called The Rough Rider (for the former football team) but with each location comes different burger names. Not all are different, but many are to localize the experience.

Tony from Toro Magazine took a photo of my Johnny Be Goat burger & then let me use his photos.

I remember going to one of the first locations of The Works in Ottawa in 2001, on Bank Street the Glebe, just south of The Queensway, before it turns into Centretown. One of my friends lived right around the corner. In 2008 is was bought by Oakville-based company Fresh Brands Inc., a private Oakville-based company specializing in marketing, brand development and franchising. Co-owner, president and CEO Andy O’Brien liked the concept and was looking for a career change. He liked the idea of a restaurant that he could take his family to and was adamant that it not have a sports bar feel. There are no TVs in the restaurants. Andy told me that his office gets over 300 franchise applications for The Works per day.


In the last couple of years there’s been a huge increase of burger places in Toronto. Burgers are comfort food. O’Brien believes that there’s room for many more. I believe that when the saturation point is reached, the strong will survive. Customers vote with their wallets. The Works has the benefit of Fresh Brands.

Just the beef (and the shake)

  • All the food and drink – potatoes, ice cream, cheese, wine and beer-  are all Canadian.
  • The meat is fresh, never frozen, with no additives or fillers
  • Meat is ground off-site,  hand-weighed and hand-packed, and then cooked over an open flame to medium-well.
  • 20 minutes: The time it takes to cook each 8-ounce patty
  • There are 6 different types of patties: Beef, chicken, turkey, veggie, Portobello mushroom cap and domestic elk
  • 3 types of buns (white, whole wheat, and gluten-free)
  • There are more than 70 toppings on offer including peanut butter, cream cheese, and Kraft Dinner (not all on the same burger). I was told that the peanut butter one is reminiscent of peanut sauce (think satay)
  • Burgers cost between $11-$14
  • There are 420 burger combinations possible
  • There are 35 flavours of milkshakes
  • They also serve ice cream floats

Andy O'Brien (President and CEO, Co-Owner) with Zaki Zahur (Toronto Danforth Owner)

One final shot, all mine:

The restaurant will open to the public in May with locations in The Beaches and Bloor West to follow. I’ll report back when I’ve visited again and tried more menu items.

Learn more about the Works and find the locations nearest you:

Thanks to Tony for the photos. The uncredited photos are my own.


  1. The Works Danforth NOW OPEN in Toronto. Eat free this Thursday | Andrea the Gastronaut - May 2, 2012

    […] was there last month for “naming day”. As a lot of the burgers have different names in each location to “localize” them, I […]

Leave a Reply