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Restaurants

Gyros

Posted by Staff / Reviewed on August 18, 2005 / review policy

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Boast to an East Coaster about Toronto's diverse edible offerings and you'll quickly be put in your place over our painful lack of true Nova Scotian donair.

Sure, many claim to offer donair, doner, donar, or however you wish to spell it. But Maritime ex-pats will tell you that no matter which way you write it, there isn't a sandwich shop, kebab house, or any other sort of food purveyor in the city that offers the real thing.

Except maybe one. Gyros, a hole in the wall off Yonge near Dundas, has gained a reputation providing the rare find - complete with chunky slices of meat, tomatoes, onions, and that sweet, slightly spicy sauce, all tucked into a warm pita.

Gyros is somewhat of an ironic name, since many non-Eastern folk tend to mistake gyros for donair. But you needn't be skeptical - Chanho Seo (the owner) is proud to make his the Nova Scotian way.

The first time I visited Gyros, I was pulled along by an ex-Halifaxian who was salivating at the prospect of rediscovering this long-lost taste. Having been on the lookout for the real deal since moving here over a decade ago, he said this was the first time the dish satisfied; this was the first time it tasted like home.

As a born-and-bred Ontarian, however, I can't help wondering what the fuss is about. It's tasty, no doubt about it, but the sauce is exceptionally sweet and sticky (something I'm normally not opposed to), and the meat is rather heavy. It's certainly not upleasant, but not something I'd go out of my way for.
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(I did, however, get an interesting conversation out of the experience; while my pita heated up in the toaster oven I received a friendly yet slightly over-enthusiastic and entirely unprovoked lesson on the benefits of teaching English in Korea.)

Yet the entire East Coast (not just Nova Scotians) is, apparently, crazy for this delicacy. And while this weekend's East Coast Rhythms festival at harbourfront will offer up oysters, mussels, and Atlantic salmon, the real Maritimers will be giving seafood a run for its money, munching away on these warm, messy, sticky delights.

Put simply, whether you're seeking that East Coast flavour of your youth or just looking for a snack on Yonge that's under $5, Gyros is the one to trust.

Discussion

43 Comments

RandomTangent / August 20, 2005 at 12:21 am
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Seriously, I do find it amazing that there are so few donair places in Toronto, given how enthusiastic Nova Scotians are about them. And there are a lot of people from Nova Scotia in Toronto. I know a few people from Nova Scotia at work, and they just salivate at the mention of the word "donair". I'll have to try one.
Lt. Dan / August 20, 2005 at 10:04 am
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To really experience true donair nirvana you have to travel to Halifax, get good and soused, and while stumbling home stop at the King Of Donair on [insert noise of choral angels singing here] Pizza Corner. For added effect, spill the sauce on your clothes for an aromatic next-day treat.
Camille / August 20, 2005 at 11:15 am
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As a matter of fact, while eating my donair the bottom of the foil opened up and what seemed like an entire bottle of sauce got dumped onto my pants. My (ahem) "Halagonian" donair expert simply said, "oh yeah, you gotta spill the sauce on yourself."
Cameron / August 22, 2005 at 11:01 am
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Ahh the Elm Eatery as it was known to my fellow Ryerson Alumni. We used to eat there multiple times a week. When I ate there it was run by a Japanese guy who also served sushi. He left to go to Korea to help setup Gyro stands!
CraigM / August 22, 2005 at 11:01 am
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Oh god now you made me hungry. We used to go to this little shop for lunch a few times a week when we were students at RyeHigh. The original owner would always greet us with a huge smile and a great conversation. He even gave my gf free sushi (which he also served) because she was a vegetarian :)

We miss you!!!
tommy / August 23, 2005 at 07:59 pm
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What'a good source for Toronto <a href="http://www.realestate.com/guide/buy.asp?source=220728&;siteid=&esourceid=220728&partner=%22%3E%3C/a%3E%3Ca%20href=%22http://www.fusedrealestate.com%22%3Ereal%20estate%3C/a%3E>real estate</a>?
littlesong / August 24, 2005 at 02:27 pm
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Now that we've discovered Nova Scotia Donairs in Toronto, we need someone to start making Donair pizza!!! It's been over a year since my last slice of goodness ... I'm suffering withdrawl!
mn-l / August 25, 2005 at 10:00 am
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yeah! i was just talking about donair pizza.. king of donair (the original location on quinpool rd) made it the best.
Camille / August 25, 2005 at 10:12 am
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Can someone share with us what Donair pizza is? Just what exactly are we missing out on?
mn-l / August 25, 2005 at 10:19 am
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well, at king of donair it was/is a pizza with a layer of donair meat under the cheese... so good. but i'm sure there are some other variations.
littlesong / August 25, 2005 at 12:53 pm
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Donair pizza as I've had it is pizza that has the donair meat, sliced tomatoes and onions (uncooked) and the sweet donair sauce on the top (no tomato sauce on the pizza). The Sicilian on Pizza Corner makes one of my faves, but there's a small pizza joint about an hour and a half outside Halifax that makes the best one I've ever had!
Nathalie / September 13, 2005 at 02:28 pm
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oh god, you guys are making me so hungrY!!
IVE BEEN AWAY FROM HALIFAX FOR 3 YEARS NOW AND I MISS THE FOOD SO BAD, I SWARE THE FIRST THING IM GOING TO DO IS GO TO KING OF DONAIR ON QUINPOOL RD. AND THEN STARIGHT TO COUSINS (LADY HAMOND RD. AND ROBIE ST) FOR DEEP FRIED CLAMS (NOT CLAM STRIPS) THA WHOLE THING OH GOSH NOBODY MAKES FOOD LIKE THE EAST COAST. (would you guys belive that i went to the duke of argyle (by john st. in toronto) cuz of the boasting of east coast food i heard they were doing) and they didnt even know what a donair was and they were so discusted that i wanted deep friend clams. i was shocked what kind of east coast bar dosent even know what they SHOULD be serving?
smitten_kitten / September 14, 2005 at 12:18 am
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GYRO...Aaaahhh yes! I don't get downtown very often, but the last time I did, I got myself a Donair from this very place and I have to admit it was pretty close to the ones my in-laws make... at first I was hesitant as the man minding the fort was korean, I didn't think I would get an authentic style Donair. I was wrong. The Donair was delich! If you haven't yet...go try it out!
Mare / October 9, 2005 at 08:20 pm
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I was sooo excited to read about Gyros's donairs and I immediately went to track this place down with only a vague description of the location and the pix.

In my teens I worked at a "proper east coast" Donair stand at Bramlea City Center. I can attest that it's very - very addictive. I laugh when I think of my the first time having a donair, I thought it was a bit weird, with it's spiced ground meat and sweet sauce. It was not my idea of great fast food. LOL. Who would have guessed way back then that I've been CRAVING a really good Donair for years!

Please help - does anyone have the address?



Camille / October 11, 2005 at 09:05 am
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My apologies for not posting the address - my bad! They are located at 1 Elm Street on the southeast side of Yonge Street. The phone number is (416) 738-0885. I believe they are closed Sunday.
Good luck - I hope it satisfies your craving!
Mare / October 13, 2005 at 11:37 pm
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Many thanks Camille!
manda / October 18, 2005 at 07:17 pm
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ummm... I just called the number you gave and it doesnt work so i was just wondering if you have another number.or if you know what time they close cause we want to go now but we live far away and we dont want to go if its going to be closed
Camille / October 18, 2005 at 07:38 pm
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Hmm, that should be the right number but maybe things have changed.

I believe their hours are Monday to Saturday from 11:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. and closed Sunday.

Good luck!
jonathan / October 19, 2005 at 03:11 pm
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are the donairt big an good?
Marie / October 31, 2005 at 06:37 pm
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I too made the pilgramidge to Gyro's to sample their "Nova Scotian Donair" and it won't make me go back again.

Donair is an art, that when an Upper Canadian tastes a real donair for the first time it's like an epiphany.

You won't get this from Gyros.

However, there is a Greco Pizza outlet located in a sketchy coffee shop on the north side of Adelaide Street West. You can order garlic fingers and donair pizza there while still getting a side of donair sauce to dip.

Otherwise, I go the distance... I make my own donair sauce and meat, because, I know how it tastes, and if I can't get it elsewhere, I might as well make it myself!

I have successfully converted many a natural born Upper Canadian to the obsession of Donair!

Trust me, donairs are delicious, and Gyros just doesn't deliver.
Mare / November 12, 2005 at 10:26 am
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Finally got a chance to get to Gyros.

I have to say in their defense that it was pretty darn close - I thoroughly enjoyed munching it! Gotta say that I'll be going back for sure.

Marie - how about sharing your donair recipe?
Colin / March 19, 2006 at 05:27 pm
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Gyros on Elm isn't bad. The sketchy Coffee shop on Adelaide across from First Canadian Place, and next door to the old Winstons has a Greco Express franchise. These are the real things. Mind you they are not quite KOD, but they are Greco and if you need that craving from Down home, go.
You can also go on greco.ca and see all the other Ont. Locations. If you ever find yourself in Belleville, head towards the water om the main drag and you will nopt only find a "Ponderosa Steak House" but also a place called Nova Scotia Donairs. Buddy is a haligonian and he also sells the deep fried pepperoni.
Rick / April 11, 2006 at 09:47 am
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I live in Halifax...<BR>
and the <B>Greco</B> locations here, <B>do NOT make REAL donairs</B>... so I'm unable to accept the fact that their locations in Toronto would either.<BR><BR>

The trouble with donairs (even locally), is that so many people have created their own little bastardised versions, that very few people (especially the younger crowd) even know what a real donair is anymore. <BR> <BR>

Even many of the traditional big-name shops around, have since been bought out by a younger, lazier crew, with sloppy kitchen habits, who flood the local market with absolutely horrible things they call donair.<BR><BR>

The one important thing you must remember about donairs, is that there is a reason why they are cooked on an upright rotating stick, that's affixed to an actual donair machine. The meat is MEANT to be cook on this apparatus <B>alone</B>, and <B>browned only on one side</B>. As well, it's always to be sliced in thin strips, but <B>NEVER IN CHUNKS</B>.<BR><BR>

If the man at your donair shop cuts meat from the donair machine and throws it onto the grill, he's just defeated the whole purpose of donair, and has just ruined the whole taste and texture of your meal. If you see your meat hit the grill, you may as well just kick the cook in the groin and leave, as he's just demonstrated a severe lack of respect for you, the donair, his business, and the products he sells.<BR><BR>

Another very common trick at many low-end shops, is to pour a cup of water over the meat while it's on the grill. The meat soaks up the water, swells, and gains weight... giving the illusion that you are getting a lot of food for your money. In actual fact, you've just been ripped off, and have nothing but a wet, rubbery, bland tasting mystery-meat sandwich, which sometimes doesn't even smell like a real donair.<BR><BR>

Always <B>demand</B> for your donair to be done right, whether the cook wants to take the time to do so or not...<BR><BR>

and never pay for anything less than that.<BR>
Zebowski / April 19, 2006 at 02:11 am
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WOW I'm super happy to have found this post. I recently moved to Toronto from Moncton, New Brunswick. The last meal I had before I left was a Donair because I was sure they weren't available. I'm going to pay this "Gyros" place a visit tomorrow and I will get back here for the review. I consider myself a donair connesseur. The last time I was in Halifax was halloween 2005. It was also the last time I had (several) real, good donairs. I'm pumped. Thanks guys.
zebowski / April 19, 2006 at 02:13 am
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Oh, and everything rick posted above is true, respect!
zebowski / April 19, 2006 at 06:50 pm
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Ok, so today i went for the long pilgrammage(which included me getting 2 giant blisters per foot) to Gyros.
The meat wasnt quite "Donair" meat, the spices weren't all there or something. I couldn't quite pinpoint it. Also the donair sauce wasnt "true east coast" style, but it was close. Was it delicious? Yes. Was it a true east-coast donair? No. Was it the closest thing ive had to an east-coast donair in 6 months? Yes. Would I go again? Mabye.
Lee Becker / June 28, 2006 at 08:22 am
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What we are lacking is proper donair sauce. As well, we need Metro Pizza Style (Fenwick) Garlic fingers with cold donair sauce. There is great debate among my friends about wether the Dartmouth Gutbuster Donair from Robert's Donairs is better than the Family Sized Donair (Sauce on the side for both). WE NEED REAL HALI POST BAR FOOD. Damn...I almost forgot about the Greek Poutine from Alexandra's
Rob / July 7, 2006 at 09:20 am
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I live in Peterborough now. Formerly Lower Sackville where KOD is king. I'm headin back to the maritimes (only as far as Fredericton) in a few weeks and was trying to locate a donair place outside of Halifax. Good Luck. I agree that Greco isnt a true donair. I have a recipe that gets me 80-90 % there (sauce is perfect) but I still die for KOD (sorry I'm a no tomatoes donair guy). Every time my folks visit I get them to fill a cooler foll of pre-made donairs and freeze them and then when I want one I pop it in the oven (still wrapped at like 250 for an hour) and no sh*t it works. Now If we could just get KOD to fed-ex. But the best news ever (check this out from the Chronicle Journal http://www.hfxnews.ca/index.cfm?sid=6750&;sc=4) it looks like KOD is opening up 75 new places accross canada over the next 7 years, they'll be bigger than Timmies! Anybody got $149,000?
Aaron / July 19, 2006 at 05:55 pm
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I was born and raised in the Halifax area so I know what a donair tastes like and how it needs to be.Recently I was in Alberta and I found some donair shops , one in Red Deer and one in West Edmonton Mall. First of all the large in Alberta isent even a small back home , they put very very little meat on it and the one in West Edmonton mall used salad dressing for sauce, they put pickles on it and use deli cheese they dont get the point that a donair is not a wrap. I got donair pizza in Red Deer and I don't even know what the hell it was. Plus you pay alot more for them there and they are very small. The real Donair is all about the sauce and amount of meat and the big pizza chains dont have this and that is why Greco sucks.The best donairs are in the small shops around Halifax/Dartmouth and im not really sure about shops else where in Nova Scotia or New Brunswick. But if you are in for an eating compititon and you are a real cocky bastard bring some friends into Roberts Donair in Dartmouth and try and take down the "bellybuster" but you need extra sauce becuase Roberts tendency for dry thick spiced meat. I tell you from experence thouse things do not show any mercy!! The thing is 10lbs of beef
Aaron / July 19, 2006 at 05:59 pm
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I was born and raised in the Halifax area so I know what a donair tastes like and how it needs to be.Recently I was in Alberta and I found some donair shops , one in Red Deer and one in West Edmonton Mall. First of all the large in Alberta isent even a small back home , they put very very little meat on it and the one in West Edmonton mall used salad dressing for sauce, they put pickles on it and use deli cheese they dont get the point that a donair is not a wrap. I got donair pizza in Red Deer and I don't even know what the hell it was. Plus you pay alot more for them there and they are very small. The real Donair is all about the sauce and amount of meat and the big pizza chains dont have this and that is why Greco sucks.The best donairs are in the small shops around Halifax/Dartmouth and im not really sure about shops else where in Nova Scotia or New Brunswick. But if you are in for an eating compititon and you are a real cocky bastard bring some friends into Roberts Donair in Dartmouth and try and take down the "bellybuster" but you need extra sauce becuase Roberts tendency for dry thick spiced meat. I tell you from experence thouse things do not show any mercy!! The thing is 10lbs of beef
Aaron / July 19, 2006 at 06:10 pm
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Oh I forgot a real Halifax style donair must be so greasy and saucy that it always needs to be wraped in tin foil.
Candace / August 8, 2006 at 07:51 am
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I don't know about you guys, but to me the REAL beauty of Donairs is that you can only get a good one in Halifax. I've been in Toronto for 5 years and will not even try Gyros, because I do not want to kill the real excitement of looking forard to a KOD donair for the whole 19 hour drive home!
John / August 10, 2006 at 11:36 pm
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I live in Halifax, right around the corner from 5 or 6 different Donair shops. Halifax Donairs are number one next to none. Different shops have different ways of making them. Donairs started out in the 70's and the meat was originally made from veal cooked on a spit and sliced very thin. There was never any cooking on a grill like you have some places doing today. A donair is a taste all its own and once you have one, your hooked forever. Probably the best places in Halifax right now serving Donairs are KOD and Tony's on Robie Street. Sicilan Pizza is spicy and very good also, but most people have a different taste, so your choice of whos is the best vary's. But make no mistake, once you have a Halifax Donair, no other place outside Nova Scotia comes even close to the real thing.
John / August 10, 2006 at 11:42 pm
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Oh and by the way. A Roberts Donair is the biggest anywhere, its closer to 12 lbs of meat and no one has ever finishes one that I know of. Even their small Donair is more like an extra large you would get somewhere else and the price is pretty reasonable.
Lynda / September 7, 2006 at 01:44 pm
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Just thought I would add my west coast comments concerning donairs. I'm formerly an Ontarian, now a Vancouver Islander. Our version of donair differs quite a bit from the east coast. I use fresh green and red peppers, onions, fresh oregano and garlic (sometimes fresh mint is added). These are ground to a paste in a food processor and mixed with equal parts ground lamb and beef, salt and pepper. Additional dry spices and herbs are used according to individual taste. This is similar to a gyro. Product is then mixed together for about 20 minutes and formed into a log shape. Baked slowly @250 for about 3 hours (or longer depending on size). Meat can be frozen. Sauce of choice is sweet, using equal amounts of sweetened condensed milk, vinegar and sugar. Meat is sliced thinly, put on a heavy pita, loaded with sauce, red onions and tomatoes, wrapped in foil and reheated in the oven. Extra sauce served on the side. Wonderful!!!!
Lynda / September 7, 2006 at 01:45 pm
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Just thought I would add my west coast comments concerning donairs. I'm formerly an Ontarian, now a Vancouver Islander. Our version of donair differs quite a bit from the east coast. I use fresh green and red peppers, onions, fresh oregano and garlic (sometimes fresh mint is added). These are ground to a paste in a food processor and mixed with equal parts ground lamb and beef, salt and pepper. Additional dry spices and herbs are used according to individual taste. This is similar to a gyro. Product is then mixed together for about 20 minutes and formed into a log shape. Baked slowly @250 for about 3 hours (or longer depending on size). Meat can be frozen. Sauce of choice is sweet, using equal amounts of sweetened condensed milk, vinegar and sugar. Meat is sliced thinly, put on a heavy pita, loaded with sauce, red onions and tomatoes, wrapped in foil and reheated in the oven. Extra sauce served on the side. Wonderful!!!!
Lynda / September 7, 2006 at 01:45 pm
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Just thought I would add my west coast comments concerning donairs. I'm formerly an Ontarian, now a Vancouver Islander. Our version of donair differs quite a bit from the east coast. I use fresh green and red peppers, onions, fresh oregano and garlic (sometimes fresh mint is added). These are ground to a paste in a food processor and mixed with equal parts ground lamb and beef, salt and pepper. Additional dry spices and herbs are used according to individual taste. This is similar to a gyro. Product is then mixed together for about 20 minutes and formed into a log shape. Baked slowly @250 for about 3 hours (or longer depending on size). Meat can be frozen. Sauce of choice is sweet, using equal amounts of sweetened condensed milk, vinegar and sugar. Meat is sliced thinly, put on a heavy pita, loaded with sauce, red onions and tomatoes, wrapped in foil and reheated in the oven. Extra sauce served on the side. Wonderful!!!!
Rhonda / October 13, 2006 at 02:10 pm
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OMG.... I was born and raised in the Maritimes. I think I had my first Donair at the age of 5. I was looking up away to make my own sauce when I fell upon this site. I am so HUNGRY NOW!!! the closest thing here in North Carolina is a GYRO....(My few years in NYC delivered the same results) the meat brings back memories, but it's the sauce that makes the whole thing perfect.... I am pregnant with twins, and I am going out of my mind!!!!!! At this point it doesn't even matter if it is a true King of Donair, just the taste of a simular sauce will do. (KOD is still the BEST) I think I am gonna cry! Maybe it's the hormones, but I think I just miss home! ok a trip to Halifax in Mid-October would be cold for me now, but I think I just may do the 2 day drive up. If your in a line to get a doanir and see a VERY pregnant woman, in flip flops, and a slight Southern accent, PLease get out of my way! I need one! Maybe two or three. LOL
Pamela / March 12, 2007 at 03:23 pm
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WHERE IS THIS GYROS PLACE ... LIKE AN EXACT ADDRESS ... I NEED TO TRY THIS ... I MISS DONAIRS SO MUCH ... THEY ARE SOOOOOO GOOOOOD!!!!
meathole / June 25, 2007 at 11:09 pm
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i drove past last weekend..OUT OF BUSINESS
TomW. / August 26, 2007 at 10:26 am
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Does anyone know if "Gyros" (used to be on Elm St. Toronto) is reopening at the same location or if he's moved somewhere in the neighborhood? With his proximity to Ryerson I'd expect (hope for) a reopening soon.
Roz / February 19, 2010 at 12:06 am
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I've never met a Halifaxian but I've met many Haligonians including most of my family. BTW most of my family thought this was hilarious and then congratulated me for finding a good donair for when they visit.
Thanks for the info :-)
Roz / February 19, 2010 at 12:07 am
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Oh dammit they can't be gone :-(

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