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Nov 1, 2005 02:22 PM

Earl's Restaurant in Toronto?

  • c

I know, it's terrible - I once swore that I'd try to avoid chain restuarants, but during a recent venture to Winnipeg I ended up at Earl's and was pleasantly surprised.

After a quick search, I came across this: - which mentioned, "The chain is now poised to move east. Earl's has its eye on a downtown Toronto location, Mr. Fuller says."

But I'm not sure when this article was published. Does anyone have any more information?

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  1. Michael Nobel is the exec chef at Earls. If Susur Lee became the exec chef at a "chain" I think we'd all be forgiven for eating there!

    3 Replies
    1. re: John Manzo

      you know that Lee is supposed to turn into a chain venture eh?

      1. re: pinstripeprincess

        That right Susar is starting a new chain called "Lee's Fusion Hell's Kitchen" On a serious note I really can't see Earl's branching out here away from the comfort of the West Coast where they have branding and a loyal clientel. GTA is a much more difficult market to break when their food has to compete against Servcorp (Alice Fazoolis, Jack Astor, Canyon Creek, just to name a few). I believe Earl was located on Eglinton at one point before closing down after consolidation losses and retreating by west.

      2. re: John Manzo

        I thought Chef Nobel left Earls last year.

      3. I've heard that Earl's is finally coming to Ontario - and their first location is scheduled for the renovated main entrance at Square One. I've searched online but I haven't been able to confirm. Has anyone been by that site lately?

        5 Replies
        1. re: Ashtangi

          Earl's actually made the trek out here before and failed. I think the remnants of one location is now (and has been for some time) the Dundas Street Grill by the Kipling GO station. I, for one, will not be going to Earl's if it should come here. Trivia alert....Boston Pizza (another western based chain) also failed on their 1st try in look at them.

          1. re: robgm

            Food definitely bland. But if they can bring the microbrews with them, they might be worth a visit. The Albino Rhino was a fairly decent beer.

            1. re: Snarf

              The beers were provided by Big Rock out of Calgary

            2. re: robgm

              I believe they had a location on Eglinton east of Yonge in the early 80s.

            3. re: Ashtangi

              I've been to Earl's several times in the west although not lately. Never was particularly impressed. Typical chain restaurant (and extremely noisy). Maybe they've changed.

            4. No, they haven't changed.

              This is not good news. I wonder if they'll survive. The food is okay, the drink list is okay, and the bill is always a lot higher than I think it'll be. They're going to have to do something about their pricing scheme/value if they're going to survive, unless they head to the suburbs maybe (?).

              6 Replies
              1. re: littlegreenpea

                How would they compare to a Milestones or Montanas? It has been at least 15 years since I have been to an Earls but what I remember they were not that dissimilar.

                1. re: OnDaGo

                  Maybe I've just had luck, but everytime I've been there I've been somewhat impressed. Now I only stick to a few items - like the Californian pizza, the clam chowder, the salmon salad and whatnot, but I've always enjoyed it far more than Milestones or the other chain restaurants.

                  1. re: Ashtangi

                    While it's not my preference, the food isn't bad in and of itself. Like I said, the bill always astounds me. It's quite popular out west here, and I always just chalked it up to a city/region without much competition for good food. [hint: I'm not in Vancouver, :-)

                  2. re: OnDaGo

                    You're right. It's probably quite like Milestones in atmosphere, except I think Earl's tries to be a bit trendier.

                    1. re: littlegreenpea

                      Having lived in Winnipeg for 5 years, and having spent far too much time after work socializing at various Earl's establishments in that city, I'd say it's like Milestones crossed with Hooters.

                      The /only/ reason "the guys" went there was simply because the waitstaff were uniformly gorgeous - it was rumoured around town that the official hiring policy was to recruit from modeling agencies, and I wouldn't be surprised if that was true. Sort of a cloned skinny blond thing, usually.

                      The food was acceptable, sometimes downright tasty, definitely aspiring towards the trendy end of things, but not always succeeding. The beer selection was decent, and drink specials from time to time were good. For Winnipeg, Earl's was actually pretty fancy, and managed to attract a mixed, moneyed crowd notwithstanding the hooterization - there was little competition in this niche, as suggested by another poster. The ex-Winnipegers I know all miss Earls, and they all think it would probably do well in Toronto, at least in the suburbs.

                      1. re: gimel

                        That's the best way to put it, like Milestones crossed with Hooters. I was going to try to put it across in such a way in a previous post, but I couldn't quite put my finger on it. You hit the nail on the head.

                2. Earl's is a popular chain in Western Canada that has inspired many successful concepts. I think that the theme restaurants currently offered in the GTA will feel their arrivial to the scene. Usually a fun place to hang out at.

                  1. I was just in Winnipeg and was pleasantly suprised, though I think that the comparison to hooter's is unfounded. Yeah, they CLEARLY higher a "certain" type of wait staff, but this is a pretty column policy at many trendy places. Very much a Milestone's type place. Last time I was there, the serving personnel was in fact very similar to Earl's

                    I posted a review on the Western Canada board which I'll just paste here for reference (to look at the full post go to, which is very long and includes reviews of 8 or 10 places I visited):

                    Earl’s on Main. I am not a big fan of the “box” restaurants that seem to have taken over the city (i.e. Winnipeg), Earl’s being one of the biggest, along with the Keg. But….after the lunch I had last week on the patio I really have little to complain about. I was on an expense account for this meal, and ordered the curry planked salmon ($17.99) with the curry sauce on the side: probably some glop with too much curry powder, I thought. Shame on me. The salmon was moist, almost perfect, served on light garlic mashed potatoes, with roasted carrots and beets (!!!). Roasted beets are always a nice surprise and these were small, scrumptious, with a nice give to the tooth. But the curry sauce made the meal! It was a gentle balance of coconut, fish sauce and curry , and a real testament to how multi-cultural Canada has really become if a place like Earl’s is willing to serve fish sauce based sauces to lunching businessmen on the prairies! Honestly, I was surprised at how nicely it tied the entire meal together and would go back for it. HIghly recommended.