Five Things we learned from the Star about The Burger’s Priest (including what a “Jarge” is)
After the fanatically venerated indie burger joint The Burger’s Priest netted third place in the 2012 Zagat Survey of Toronto last week (the only budget option in a rather upscale top ten), the Toronto Star published a pair of articles about founder Shant Mardirosian. Mardirosian, an Armenian-American who left L.A. for Toronto in 1984, is a seminary graduate, a burger evangelist, and all-round pretty interesting dude. The five best tidbits we learned, after the jump:
1. The priest thing is no joke
Mardirosian is a seminary graduate who had planned to be a pastoral minister. And just because he opted for burgers over the Bible, that doesn’t mean he’s lost the faith. Of the success of his shop, he says, “I can’t attribute it to anything I’ve done…. I have a lot of faith in God and He told me early on that this place is going to be big.”
2. It’s doing about 4,900 per cent better than Mardirosian thought it would
Mardirosian’s original plan was to find a cut-rate storefront (he got the Queen Street spot off Craigslist for $27,000) and sell about 20 burgers a day. The original location now fills about 400 orders a day, and the bigger, newer Yonge Street location does about 600.
3. The secret menu isn’t a secret (and you’re welcome to add to it)
So-called “secret menu” items like the Vatican City (double cheeseburger with grilled cheese sandwiches for buns), the High Priest (an interpretation of a Big Mac) and Holy Smokes (a double cheeseburger with panko-coated, deep-fried jalapenos) have become food blog lore, but Mardirosian says there’s nothing clandestine about the off-menu items. “We just let customers come in and make up burgers with the ingredients that we have,” he explained. “We always let them name it.”
4. “Jarge” is a cooking method, a person and a sound
To make a “Jarge-style” burger, Mardirosian coats the bottom of a four-ounce ball of ground beef with yellow mustard, then smashes it into the flat-top; once the mustard has cooked into the meat, the patty is topped with fried onion mixed with special sauce. “Jarge” is a nickname for Mardirosian’s friend Rob, and comes from a sound he made once when he was cold in Whistler (your guess is as good as ours).
5. There are more locations in the offing (but don’t expect much more seating)
Real-estate agents are already scouting a third location. No word yet on where, but Mardirosian says it’ll be slightly bigger than the Yonge Street location—as big as he can make it while keeping the cheeseburger at $5.29.