Documenting Toronto’s Diners Before They’re Gone: The Avenue Diner Since 1944


Toronto Diners The Avenue Diner

I’m sitting on a stool at the Avenue Diner off Avenue Rd. and Davenport in what is the tiniest piece of real estate. I’m joined by my friend Kenny on the continuation of my Toronto Diner pilgrimage. It’s the lunch rush and we’re hungry.

Toronto Diners The Avenue Diner

I order the Avenue BLT and fries. Kenny orders the cheeseburger and fries with gravy and begins to contemplate his seemingly bottomless vanilla milkshake. I’m kind of envious although I’m fairly confident with my decision to go with the BLT because it has the word “Avenue” in it and a tap water. I have to pace myself.

Toronto Diners The Avenue Diner

I sip from a straw sticking out of an old Coca-Cola cup and snap photos for posterity of Kenny’s milkshake,  the hundreds of portraits that surround us are of celebrities who gave an autographed portrait to the museum of good eats. I respect that. I wonder what  Tim “The Toolman” Allen ordered.

Here comes the frenetic energy of the two birds behind the counter again, it’s quite a dance indeed. Artfully reaching over each other or squeezing past to hand a bottle of ketchup to someone or wipe the countertop down. Lunch is in full swing and the stomach is a-rumblin.

Toronto Diners The Avenue Diner

Toronto Diners The Avenue Diner

The chef spins on his heel to pass a plate to a hungry patron behind him and I catch a glimpse of his hat “Avenue Road Diner” it says across it. My eyes begin to dart around for some Diner swag but I don’t see any. I was hoping to walk away with a little piece of history emblazoned on a T-shirt or something and then the food arrives.

Toronto Diners The Avenue Diner

We both go silent unraveling our utensils from the cheap napkins, heads down over our spectacularly perfect meals. The soundtrack of the place becomes nebulous barks as orders are taken and tables are cleared. It’s the dull roar of a busy Diner at fever pitch. I close my eyes, bite into my sandwich and imagine the day it opened in 1944 and how it probably hasn’t changed one bit.

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