Saturday, April 16, 2011

location, location, location!

Congrats to the newbie to the Stratford food scene; Big D's has taken on the challenge of one of the most cursed locations in the city.

Into the 90's, House of Gene (which occupied the space at 104-108 Downie st.) was a big hit.  A half decent Chinese buffet with good egg rolls and questionable lighting.  Gene's was a dual location mammoth at that time - and quite a popular family dining destination.  But somewhere along the line, when Gene's left, the building was seemingly condemned to its current fail-rate.

Without missing a beat, a new restaurant takes over the location at the corner of George & Downie (kitty corner to the Avon) in whole or part and promptly runs itself into the ground.

Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

Perhaps a second season is achieved by one of these new places but rarely beyond.  It seems that there is a great deal of unpreparedness, hasty openings or poorly thought out partnerships associated with this location.  The season in Stratford is short and it seems like restaurants scramble to be ready for opening week.

There is certainly more than one location around the city that seems to be cursed with turnover.  27 Market Place where the new Backstage will be opening.  38 Erie st. which currently is being nicely maintained by County Food Co. (great 'bucket' picnic lunches available to enjoy by the river).  107 Downie st. has settled down for now with Downie st. Burgers grabbing a great niche market recently (arguably the best burgers in town?).

But though some of these others seem to have found their niche, that location at 104-108 Downie st. has one of the worst track records in recent history: Bistro 104 became Garlic's became Gilt became Olive's became Tantara has become Big D's.  I wish them luck, but God help them!


  1. best burgers in town? I don't think so. Foster's lamb burger is the best burger anywhere, not just in town!

  2. Downie Street Burgers is not a place I would ever eat at again. The food was just okay, the service was not great... even the tap water tasted funny (and was slightly off-colour).

  3. My Boomers burger was fantastic!

  4. and for the record, it isnt on the corner, it is in the cramped spot beside the corner location where restaurants arent cursed they are just badly opened with minimum experience and lack of innovation that doesnt welcome us into the year 2011??? We dont need more restaurants, we need more quality restaurants that makes us the Culinary Destination!!!! Thanks to Fosters Inn and Simple Fish and Chips for keeping this area of Stratford worth coming back to for great eats.. oh and Downie St. Burgers but really, its just a burger?!?!

  5. Lol, actually, for the record the location I speak of is a combination of 'on the corner' and not. Some incarnations have encompassed both sides of the building which is connected (even the washrooms of the current Big D's are the same ones for the original House of Gene!). I agree, the location's curse is mostly due to the poor planning/lack of experience/series of unfortunate events related to the people who choose the spot.
    And to speak of Downie st: awesome burgers! Great combinations of toppings, the meat itself is also delicious and the buns could stand alone - try it one more time if you didn't love it the first time.

  6. There are rumors blowin' in the wind that Big D's is almost ready to claim it's place in the 'restaurants that didn't survive this location' archives....

    And trouble is a-brewin' at the Backstage, as well.