Lick’s used to make the best burgers, but that was long ago
Nothing last forever, not even the restaurant chain that spawned the upscale burger business in Toronto.
The Star reported today that a Lick’s franchisee on The Queensway found the locks on their store had been changed by the landlord this week, after the Lick’s head office stopped paying the $11,000 monthly rent.
The story said the rent was remitted to Lick’s president and founder Denise Meehan, but wasn’t passed on to the landlord until the arrears totaled more than $88,000.
It mentioned several other Lick’s locations that have closed in the last year, and that the upscale burger market has become hyper-competitive, while Lick’s failed to change with the times.
Comments posted to the online story made it clear that not many people think of Lick’s as their favourite burger any more, and that the change in opinion began when it switched from fresh ground beef to frozen patties.
There was a time when Lick’s was a big deal. The burgers were so fat – stuffed with more condiments than you could get anywhere else – that you could barely get your mouth around them.
Woe be to the naïf who ate one over their lap. They dripped so much juice and condiments that it always made a happy mess.
The 60s music and sing-song delivery of orders from the till to the kitchen staff was entertaining, and the card for a free ice cream that came with every children’s meal made it good value.
But nothing much changed over the years, except the downscale switch to frozen patties, while new competitors entered the market with a focus on quality that seemed lost on Lick’s.
Back in the 80s, when Lick’s began, Meehan seemed to have the hospitality business figured out. She and her brother, whose name I’ve forgotten, also ran a bar on Jarvis St. called Cap’s, where cheap, Buffalo-style chicken wings and free munchies were a big draw at happy hour. I was a regular, and the place was always packed.
I would still stop a few times a year at the Cliffside Lick’s location on Kingston Rd.,but I knew something was up when that store, which had been there for at least 20 years, suddenly closed last winter.
Once I discovered Shamrock Burger in Highland Creek, which offers a homemade burger that I like much better than Lick’s, I stopped going there.
It looks like a lot of other people have also found a better burger.