1970s  now le chateau  F 1244, id. 0111   a[1]

Steak N’ Burger Restaurant at 772 Yonge Street in the 1970s. Toronto Archives, F 0124, f 0002, id 0111

In the decade following World War II, dining in restaurants started to become more common among ordinary families in Toronto. Responding to the need for inexpensive but decent quality food, several family-style chains of restaurants began opening in the mid-1950s and 1960s. Among them were Swiss Chalet, Church’s Fried Chicken, Harvey’s Hamburgers, St. Hubert, Steak N’ Burger, KFC, and a few years later, Ponderosa.

The restaurants appealed mostly to budget conscience customers, so to trim costs these chains offered a limited menu, the style of the food similar to what might be referred to today as “comfort food.”  I remember these restaurants well as their openings coincided with in the decade when I first started to explore Toronto’s restaurant scene. I had landed my first fulltime job, and though earning a modest salary, was anxious to “dine out” with friends.

The Winco Steak N’ Burger restaurants was one of the chains that I visited. Two of my favourites were located at 240 Bloor Street West, across from Varsity Stadium, and at 772 Yonge Street, south of Bloor Street. My visits to the Steak N’ Burger on Yonge Street usually occurred when I attended Loew’s Uptown Theatre, which was only two doors north of the theatre. The building still exists today, but is a “Le Chateau” clothing store. Visiting the Steak N’ Burger at 240 Bloor West was when I attended the University Theatre on Bloor, between Bay and Avenue Road.

Similar to all the Steak N’ Burgers, the decor of these two restaurants looked like the wild-west during the days of the cowboys. Memorabilia from the old west were displayed on the walls, and in one or two sites, the chandeliers were wagon wheels. To augment this theme, the waitresses wore Stetson hats. The tables and chairs were not particularly comfortable, so did not encourage clientele to linger and chat. As a result, there was a relatively quick turnover of customers, as in fast food chains of the present decade.

Although the Steak N’ Burgers were certainly not steak houses like those of today, the food was reasonably good and the price was right. When the chain began, the main menu items were roast beef, hamburgers, and a small steak, the latter a cheap cut of meat, tenderized and served well-done. I don’t ever remember a waiter at a Steak N’ Burger asking how I wanted the steak cooked. Well-done, medium, medium-rare and rare were reserved for proper steak houses, such as Barbarians on Elm Street or Carman’s Club on Alexander Street, which both opened in 1959.

During the years, the menu at the Steak N’ Burger was expanded. However, when I visited a Steak N’ Burger in the late-1950s, I usually ordered the special steak dinner. It consisted of a small glass of tomato juice and a salad, which was mainly iceberg lettuce with a slice of tomato and a few pieces of red cabbage. Coffee was also included. The steak was accompanied by a baked potato with generous amounts of butter, and a bread roll sliced in half and toasted.  Dessert was strawberry shortcake.

Steak N’ Burger was managed by Cara Operations Limited, a Toronto-based food company that owned a 50 percent share in the Keg N’ Cleaver, now renamed “The Keg.” In 1977, Harvey’s Hamburger and Swiss Chalet were merged into a single company named Foodcorp, which was sold to Cara Operations Ltd.

Popular Steak N’ Burger restaurants were located at 173 Bay Street, 77 King St E., 323 Yonge Street, 1427 Yonge Street, and 2287 Yonge Street. However, public tastes changed, the Steak N’ Burger sites became less popular. For inexpensive dining, people preferred a pub-style restaurant. As a result, during the years ahead, the Steak N’ Burgers slowly disappeared.

The author is grateful to these sources for information:  



Chuckman  postcard-toronto-winco-steaknburger-restaurant-interior-they-were-dreary-places-c1970[1]

The interior of a Steak N’ Burger restaurant. Photo from Chuckman postcards. 

Fonds 1465, s 0299, item 0004 undated, King Street East    201516-cyranos[1]

Undated photo of the Steak N’ Burger on King Street East. Toronto Archives, Fonds 1465, s 0299, item 0004.

                     Torontotoist  2007_04_01winco[1]

The special steak dinner at the Steak N’ Burger. Photo from the Torontoist.

Source. Lost Ottawa Dec. 1980   1237609_365906143543094_916181863_n[1]

Menu at a Steak N’ Burger in Ottawa. Photo source Lost Ottawa 1980.

To view a post about more Toronto restaurants in the 1960s and 1970s :


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Books by the Blog’s Author

Toronto’s Theatres and the Golden Age of the Silver Screen,” explores 50 of Toronto’s old theatres and contains over 80 archival photographs of the facades, marquees and interiors of the theatres. It relates anecdotes and stories by the author and others who experienced these grand old movie houses.  


   To place an order for this book, published by History Press:

https://www.historypress.net/catalogue/bookstore/books/Toronto-Theatres-and-the-Golden-Age-of-the-Silver-Screen/9781626194502 .

Book also available in most book stores such as Chapter/Indigo, the Bell Lightbox and AGO Book Shop. It can also be ordered by phoning University of Toronto Press, Distribution: 416-667-7791 (ISBN 978.1.62619.450.2)


Another book on theatres, published by Dundurn Press, is entitled, “Toronto’s Movie Theatres of Yesteryear—Brought Back to Thrill You Again.” It explores 81 theatres and contains over 125 archival photographs, with interesting anecdotes about these grand old theatres and their fascinating histories. Note: an article on this book was published in Toronto Life Magazine, October 2016 issue.

For a link to the article published by |Toronto Life Magazine: torontolife.com/…/photos-old-cinemas-dougtaylortoronto-local-movie-theatres-of-y…

The book is available at local book stores throughout Toronto or for a link to order this book: https://www.dundurn.com/books/Torontos-Local-Movie-Theatres-Yesteryear

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Another publication, “Toronto Then and Now,” published by Pavilion Press (London, England) explores 75 of the city’s heritage sites. It contains archival and modern photos that allow readers to compare scenes and discover how they have changed over the decades. Note: a review of this book was published in Spacing Magazine, October 2016. For a link to this review:


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10 thoughts on “Remembering the Steak n’ Burger Restaurants—Toronto

  1. I remember Steak N’ Burger. One week in the late ’60s I attended a downtown week long course, stayed in a hotel and they gave us coupons to eat at the SnB. I remember roast beef, baked potato and green peas. Good and not expensive on a junior banker’s salary!

  2. Oh what memories! My parents and I but mostly my mother and I, would go to the Steak N’ Burger at Yorkdale in the 70s. That’s where I had my first mug of cold beer. My mother and I both ordered a hamburger and a mug of beer! I remember that day like it was yesterday. RIP mom….

  3. Trying to find the steakhouse located at the north east corner of Yonge St and Carlton St in the late 60’s and early 1970’s

  4. I believe other locations for that chain included: Fairview Mall in North York (the spot currently occupied by Michel’s Baguette); Gerrard Sq on Gerrard Street, Toronto (next to where the Zellers was, and the Walmart currently is); and in Union Station.

  5. I loved eating at the Steak ‘n’ Burger, especially the one on Bloor St. across from Varsity Stadium. Whenever we would visit Toronto that was one of the places that was on our “must stop” list. In the 1960s for $1.29 you could get the “Giant Burger Platter” This included the best hamburger that I have ever tasted, a toasted roll, a baked potato, and a small tossed salad. In the 1980s the Blue Bird Bus line was offering a day trip to Toronto from Rochester and Buffalo. For 15 bucks you could leave Rochester at 7 a.m., arrive in Toronto at around 11, have six hours or so free time and arrive back home around 10:30 in the evening. While most people took the trip to shop at the Eaton Centre, we used this opportunity to have a nice lunch at “The Burger” and then spend the afternoon photographing trains and trolleys in West Toronto and various other parts of the city, and loading up on those delicious Nielson chocolate bars to take home. The good old days! I can still taste those big burgers!

  6. Remembering the seventies.
    I think there was also a Steak & Burger in Toronto at Dupont and Davenport wasn’t there?
    I was just remembering the Steak & Burger and decided to see if there was anything online about it, and sure enough.
    Thank you so much for posting all this wonderful Steak & Burger nostalgia.

  7. There was a steak restaurant on the N/E corner of Yonge & Gerard next to the theater.
    Their Motto was “We server more steaks than any other restaurant in Toronto”.
    Do you know the actual name of it?
    I disappeared many years ago but was around in the early 1980s.

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