First it was the Real Jerk, then Jilly's — now, Dangerous Dan's is the latest casualty at the ever-changing Queen and Broadview intersection.
The popular Riverdale burger joint with menu staples like the "coronary burger," the "big Kevorkian" and deep-fried Mars bars will close in May after 18 years on the block — a longer lifespan than many Toronto restaurants enjoy.
Pizza Nova bought the building in 2015 for $2,975,000. Dangerous Dan's owner, James McKinnon, said he's been trying to renegotiate his lease for months. He hoped to settle or sell the business, but will close instead.
"You need your landlord to be on board and my feeling is that they would rather me not be here," he said.
Difficult decision to close
He never missed a rent cheque in 18 years, McKinnon said, and closing was a hard decision.
"We've got people who were coming in when they were kids and now they're bringing their kids." - James McKinnon, owner of Dangerous Dan's
"It's kind of sunk in, but it's weird because it's all I've done for the last 18 years," he said. "I always thought it would be my decision. I could have raised my prices but [I'm] not sure what that would have done for the business."
The restaurant opened in 1999 and was named after McKinnon's grandfather, Dan Wooley, who McKinnon called his "favourite person." Ironically, Wooley "couldn't cook a thing," McKinnon said.
McKinnon said he started working in fine-dining restaurants at the age of 15 and he will miss the instant gratification he gets from serving people food.
"I hope they'll remember they had a good time," he said about his customers. "We're part of people's lives, not a big part but a small part."
"We've got people who were coming in when they were kids and now they're bringing their kids... they make a pilgrimmage."
The closure marks yet another big change for the area as the neighbourhood gentrifies.
The Real Jerk was forced to close its Queen and Broadview home in 2012, after the property was bought by a developer in 2011 for $2,050,000. It changed hands again in 2013, bought by another numbered company for $2,850,000.
An Irish bar — An Sibin Pub — took over the spot but closed last November, citing "unreasonable and many rent increases" on its Facebook page. The space is currently for rent and there is no development application registered with the city.
- The Real Jerk forced out of Queen Street home
- Riverdale's The Real Jerk front and centre in Rihanna and Drake's Work video
The Broadview Hotel, an historic four-storey hotel on the north-west corner, was also bought by a developer in 2014 and its most famous tenant — Jilly's, a strip club — was forced to close at the end of its lease. The building is being turned into a $24 million boutique hotel by Streetcar Developments and is slated to open this spring.
McKinnon said there are good things and bad things about the neighbourhood's gentrification — the good being his house has gone up in value, the bad being his rent has also gone up.
There are no farewell plans as of yet, but Dangerous Dan's will serve up its last burger on Sunday, May 28.