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Johnny Rockets

smr714 Jan 26, 2009 08:08 PM

When I have visited California, I have always had a good burger or patty melt at Johnny Rockets with fries and rings, and a good shake or rootbeer float. I am afraid to ask if anyone has ventured to the new Toronto location at Dundas and Yonge -- especially after seeing what has happened to other US chains that have come up here in the past?

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  1. duckdown Jan 26, 2009 08:23 PM

    They supposedly also sell a 'very sought after' brand of Hotdogs (Nathans is it?), as it says on their online menu, but nobody ever followed up on it.

    Also curious.

    1 Reply
    1. re: duckdown
      tjr Jan 26, 2009 09:57 PM

      I don't know if there's a gigantic difference between Coney Island Nathan's (I'm not a big hot dog fan, and it's been a while) and what they serve at Johnny Rockets, but it certainly isn't something I'd be rushing off to eat. It's not that it's a chain, it's just that I don't enjoy their food. If you enjoyed it in California, you might enjoy it here; I've never eaten at a JR in the States.

    2. k
      KevinB Jan 27, 2009 02:35 AM

      I've been to a couple of these places, including the one at Vaughan Mills, but not the Yonge St. location. The food has never been more than "OK", the shakes disappointing, and the prices (for the food) high. However, if you go to a spot with a great crew, it can be fun.

      My fave was in Manhattan, where I'm sure every person was an aspiring actor/actress/dancer. When they broke into their dance routines, they really seemed to enjoy it, and every one of the patrons seemed to do so as well.

      Walden Galleria in Buffalo wasn't bad; the dancing wasn't quite as good as NYC, but again the staff seemed to enjoy it.

      Vaughan Mills was a total disappointment; not only was the food terrible (so bad I actually wrote a letter of complaint to the organization), but the staff seemed bored and uninterested in actually serving people, and when it came to the dance numbers - meh. My 14 year old does a better job.

      Given that Yonge is right downtown, there's a chance that it too will have a lot of aspiring dancers/actors/actresses on staff, hoping to get noticed. But don't go for the food alone - you're sure to be disappointed. .

      15 Replies
      1. re: KevinB
        Davwud Jan 27, 2009 03:27 AM

        Mrs. Sippi ranted and raved about JR. So we had lunch at the VM site and I have to say it wasn't all that great. I wasn't Wowed by anything and I think it didn't live up to her expectations either.


        1. re: Davwud
          smr714 Jan 27, 2009 07:18 AM

          Johnny Rockets was actually rated as one of the best burgers in Los Angeles, and unlike the toronto polls this poll seems to be rather reliable, we use it as our planning for outside dinners. I am a tad surprised to find this post moved to the chains board since I am specifically looking for information regarding the Toronto Location and not chainwide quiality controls.

          1. re: smr714
            KevinB Jan 27, 2009 10:33 AM

            I've never been to a JR in California, so I'm not qualified to judge them. But my experience has been when chains expand too far, quality slips a bit. Even at McD's, I've found huge variations between what you get at a location near Oak Brook, IL, and Detroit, MI.

            Toronto had a similar burger joint called "Licks". It started out in a rather trendy spot of Toronto called the Beaches. Besides serving (very good, BTW) fresh made burgers, the staff would periodically burst into song. It was amusing, made the wait for cooking your fresh burger seem less, and contributed to a happy atmosphere.

            They tried to extend the chain dramatically throughout Toronto. Not only did the quality of their product decline, the enthusiasm of the staff did as well. While it's great to see a bunch of people lustily singing while they make your food, it's quite depressing to see them go through the singing motions at another time. It makes you wonder how much they are dedicated to giving you a great meal.

            We don't go to Licks much any more. (And, for old Torontonians, whatever happened to Toby's?)

            1. re: KevinB
              Davwud Jan 27, 2009 04:36 PM

              Yes, early Lick's was great.
              Remember The Fire Pit??


              1. re: Davwud
                magic Jan 28, 2009 07:41 AM

                The Johnny Rocket’s in Vaughan Mills is completely average to sub-average. Not horrible, just nothing to rush back for at all. It’s been there awhile now, almost 4 years I think.

                The Fire Pit had great burgers. Can’t remember their fries, so I’m assuming they were fairly forgettable. Miss those burgers though. Too bad they closed down.

                Yes, I used to like the State of the Art burger at Toby’s. Many many midnight burgers. Good times. I think there still might be one Toby’s left at Yonge/Empress. Although I recall a friend saying it was horrid now.

                Lick's just hasn't been the same for years. Never did like their awful fries, but at least their burgers were good. Now, not even that...

                1. re: magic
                  embee Jan 28, 2009 08:52 AM

                  Any places now operating called Toby's are not connected with the defunct chain (which also owned Bemelman's, Rhodes, Nekah, the Ports, and the Copa).

                  1. re: magic
                    Davwud Jan 28, 2009 09:35 AM

                    FP had good Souvlaki too.


                    1. re: Davwud
                      magic Jan 28, 2009 10:08 AM

                      I couldn't stray from the burgers but I don't doubt you : )

                  2. re: Davwud
                    jayt90 Jan 28, 2009 08:26 AM

                    I remember Fire Pit, and a predecessor, Go-Go-Burgers on Mt.Pleasant, beside George's Trains, who did an excellent homeburger for a premium price. The regular burgs were pre-formed patties, even in the 60's.

                    1. re: jayt90
                      Mary D Jan 31, 2009 11:36 AM

                      There IS still a Fire Pit (original owners). It is at Britannia Road and Hurontario ( northwest corner) in Mississauga. Still yummy!

                      1. re: Mary D
                        magic Feb 1, 2009 06:30 AM

                        Same owners and burgers as were on Yonge St.??

                        1. re: magic
                          Mary D Feb 2, 2009 05:02 AM

                          I don't know about Yonge St. but when we first discovered this Fire Pit, we spoke with them and they said that they were the original owners and that this was now their only location. Fodd is just as we remembered from their Dixie and Dundas location in Mississauga years ago. Right down to the onion ring on the top of the fries.

                          1. re: Mary D
                            magic Feb 2, 2009 05:53 AM

                            Hmm, I wonder if this is the same business as was on Yonge/McKee many moons ago??? Perhaps there were two locations - one on Yonge and one in Mississauga that I wasn't aware of.

                            1. re: magic
                              Davwud Feb 2, 2009 06:08 AM

                              There was also one at Kipling and Rexdale many moons ago too.


                              1. re: Davwud
                                magic Feb 2, 2009 06:13 AM

                                Hmm, interesting. Did not know this. I guess when we’re younger we generally stay in our zones of comfort, so never really ventured to that area.

          2. The Chowhound Team Jan 28, 2009 07:24 AM

            We've moved this back to the Ontario board, since that one local location was the focus of the original poster's request. We'd ask that people please focus on the Yonge & Dundas location, or at least the local, Ontario locations.

            General discussions of Johnny Rockets should be on the Chains board.

            1. Wahooty Jan 28, 2009 08:12 AM

              I haven't been to the new one, but I was just at the Vaughan Mills one on Saturday. My burger was pretty lousy and incredibly overpriced. Of course, I don't expect much from a location that has a guaranteed, captive audience of mall customers - the downtown location may prove to be better.

              1. f
                foxymoron Jan 31, 2009 01:27 PM

                We went to JR in downtown Toronto and while the food was decent for diner food, we found it quite pricey. Two of us shared a malted shake, onion rings and patty melt (that doesn't come with a side) and the bill came to the high 20s, $28, I think. We won't be going back for food, but maybe the shakes and floats.

                2 Replies
                1. re: foxymoron
                  smr714 Feb 1, 2009 05:59 AM

                  for that 28 dollars, we get a patty melt (for me), a double rocket for my friend, rootbeer float (for me) and a large shake for him. Each got a side, one onion ring and one large cheesy fries. Sounds like they have gone north with the prices when they have come north of the border here in Toronto.

                  1. re: foxymoron
                    julesrules Feb 2, 2009 06:27 AM

                    Agree with your assessment. I found the food about Harvey's quality and the prices about double. My dog with chili (again no side, c'mon, throw in some fries!) was soooo salty, although I am really sensitve to the saltiness in fast food these days (and I cook with plenty of salt at home). The salt factor alone made it feel like fast food at sit-down prices.
                    The staff did break into dance routines, routinely, and with enthusiasm. My 3 year old loved it, along with the paper hat they gave her with crayons to decorate it. When a staff member (not our server, perhaps a manager) noticed she was loving her hat, he gave us a whole bunch more to take home. So for that reason alone I will probably take her back there sometime.

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