The 1960s and 1970s saw family dining restaurant chains explode across North America. Chains such as Steak n’ Burger took staples of diners and greasy spoons and used cleanliness, low prices and conformity to draw in hungry families.
You have all the components of the old-school low-end steak dinner: a bowl of iceberg lettuce with no fresh-ground pepper or sun-dried tomato vinaigrette in sight, a baked potato with a huge pat of butter; a steak that has never known the words “Angus” or “certified aged”, a toasted supermarket roll that takes up a third of the plate, tomato juice (because a bloody piece of meat deserves a bloody accompaniment) and coffee in a cup a university student’s cupboard or Value Village store would love. Not sure how common strawberry shortcake was at this style of restaurant, but hopefully the sponge cake had some spring left in it.
When this ad appeared, Steak n’ Burger had just been acquired by Cara Operations, who added Harvey’s and Swiss Chalet to its portfolio within a year. The chain gradually faded away, as the market for franchised family dining moved towards bar & grill-style restaurants that didn’t include tomato juice as a side dish.
Can you still find tenderness after a rough rush hour commute at their locations along the subway? Check the current state of these addresses:
173 Bay St – building replaced by the main entrance off Bay to BCE Place. Not quite as historic as the 1885 Bank of Montreal building or other buildings incorporated into the complex.
77 King St E. – address no longer appears to exist. There is a vacant space at 75 which looks large enough to have housed a restaurant, while 79 is home to Uno Spanish Services.
323 Yonge St – building demolished, address looks like it will be buried in the Metropolis development at Dundas St.
772 Yonge St – now the Yonge-Bloor branch of Le Chateau. Do leather jackets count as a connection to this location’s cow by-product past?
1427 Yonge St – the only one of the subway-accessible locations still serving food, as the Jester Pub.
2287 Yonge St – not a restaurant, but still in the food business as the Yonge-Eglinton branch of Kitchen Stuff Plus.
240 Bloor St W. – recently demolished to make way for the One Bedford condo tower.
Source: Toronto Blue Jays Scorebook Magazine, Vol 1 No 17, 1977