A Toronto favourite replaces Little Italy’s Woodlot

When chef Grant van Gameren’s much-loved burger joint Harry’s Charbroiled closed down in Parkdale, the chef hinted that the concept would return in some capacity. Now, we have a pretty good idea of what that looks like. In short, you can expect to see a lot of van Gameren’s classic-style burgers around town.

“With the pandemic, our world turned somewhat upside down, but we used the time to get creative and started making a limited [Harry’s Charbroiled] menu out of our Bar Raval location for pickup and delivery,” van Gameren says. “We eventually moved that to the old Woodlot location, which still happens to be our current base. Now, as the restrictions are starting to ease out, we are taking it on the road in our new bright yellow Harry’s Charbroiled truck,” he adds.

Though limited, their menu still includes the all-time darlings like the plain Jane, classic Jane, big Jane, double Jane with occasional favourites such as the vegan Jane and red burger, thrown in, among others. The Woodlot location is also offering pickup between 12 p.m. and 9 p.m. everyday and is available on Uber Eats, for anyone located out of their vicinity.

Speaking about the days ahead, van Gameren says, “The immediate future is still uncertain, but our plan is to eventually move into permanent locations in neighbourhoods throughout the city. These won’t be recreations of the original diner, but simple takeout locations where more people can enjoy easy access to Harry’s burgers and fries.”

In the near future, Harry’s wants to take it a step further and extend its reach to include a wider clientele. “When we originally acquired it, we made some updates, but essentially ran it in the same spirit as it had existed for the past 50 years. Our intent was never to replicate it and multiply it. However, we had such overwhelming response to the simple goodness of our food — the plain Jane, the thick-cut fries — we thought it would an interesting idea to deliver it to a wider audience,” says chef van Gameren, who took over the Parkdale diner in 2016.

For 52 years, Harry’s Charbroiled has survived many transitions, from the urban renewal of the neighbourhood to the legendary takeover by big league chefs Grant van Gameren, Nate Young and Robin Goodfellow; from the declaration of termination in October 2019 to the eventual bounce back in its current pop-up food truck form in April 2020, the legendary name has seen it all.

Article exclusive to TRNTO