in n out burger toronto

Huge crowd shows up for In-N-Out Burger in Toronto

Missed your chance to eat an In-N-Out Burger at their one-day-only Toronto pop-up? If it's any consolation, so did most of the people who showed up at Osteria dei Ganzi on Thursday. The one-off event quickly whipped up a frenzy online, as Torontonians well-versed in the Cali chain's burgers rejoiced at the prospect of tasting their favourite faraway fast food once again.

The off-the-charts demand for the burgers, then, shouldn't have come as a shock. But you wouldn't have known that from the stunned, slack-jawed faces of would-be diners who arrived between the pop-up's scheduled hours of 11am and 3pm, only to be informed (by a team of endlessly-patient staffers sporting In-N-Out T-shirts) that the event was completely sold out, with the final wristband handed out at 10:30am. (The first person in line arrived bright and early at 6:45am to stake out their spot.)

in n out burger toronto

A strict entrance policy was in effect, with security letting diners in a few at a time to come in and collect their burger (no media allowed). An upscale Italian joint like Ganzi may have seemed like an odd choice for fast-food pop-up, but the restaurant's iron gates, brick walls, and low sightlines from the street turned out to be a canny choice - if you wanted to create an impenetrable fortress in which people could eat a hot-ticket meal in peace, this would be the place.

in n out burger toronto

Event staff couldn't pin down how many wristbands were handed out or burgers were served that day, but the line of successfully-wristbanded diners wrapped around the front of the restaurant and snaked for a block down Gloucester St. (a few of whom were wearing California-themed T-shirts and In-N-Out merch in honour of the occasion).

in n out burger toronto

At the front of the line, I asked a group of folks who'd been waiting since about 9am how many had tried In-N-Out before; most raised their hands.

Are the burgers really that good? "It's a cult thing," offered one older gent.

in n out burger toronto

It looks like the company aims to keep it that way. Though hopes continually spring eternal for a real, live In-N-Out here in Toronto, it seems that the event is just the latest in a long string of one-off pop-ups, which the company uses to build buzz and awareness around the world - In-N-Out has served burgers in Peru, Ukraine, Spain, Australia, and most recently, Chile.

in n out burger toronto

They're also frequent visitors to B.C., where they're known for hosting semi-regular services at an auto show in Langley; over there, event staff tell me, the lines start as early as 5:45am.

in n out burger toronto

If you weren't among the lucky few who got to try an "animal-style" burger on Canadian soil, you might be waiting a long, long time before In-N-Out heads back this way again. Otherwise, we hear L.A. is mighty nice this time of year.

Photos by Jesse Milns

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