Church’s Chicken IS In Toronto – I Break My @ChurchsChicken Cherry
After hearing a lot about this place and having a whole discussion with some people on the interiorwebs – namely Sean and Justin (on Twitter they are @sboulton and @The_JMoney respectively) along some other people who honestly I don’t remember but they totally did chime in when we were having this discussion like 3 weeks ago – I decided I finally had to try this place out. It is supposed to be like the best fast food chicken ever according to some…or maybe even the best chicken ever I’m not sure.
So tonight on my way home from a day spent mostly at Yonge & Eglinton I, for the first time, took the TTC”s St Clair 512 streetcar – and didn’t find it that much faster than a bus to be honest – out to Dufferin and St Clair West to visit this reportedly amazing chicken restaurant that used to exist all over Toronto and is now relegated to this one location – as far as anyone knows. (P.S. another link for the 512 St Clair aside from the official TTC one linked above is this one from TransitToronto.org which I got via Wikipedia’s article about it.)
The existence of this location came as a surprise to many as if you look on the Church’s Chicken website it has a locator for their location here and it lists 19 locations in Canada all in British Columbia but none in Ontario. Thinking I knew I had seen a Church’s SOMEWHERE at some point I turned to Foursquare and, sure enough, I found the location pictured above at this link here which I visited today. Don’t be fooled by Google Street View which doesn’t show the existence of Church’s at the street corner. I have attached a picture from Street View of the building where it is now and you can see it looks very different from the picture above (and it is from a different angle too but the fact the building is painted yellow now should be a sign!)
The exact address for this Church’s Chicken location is:1171 St Clair Avenue West Toronto, Ontario M6E 1B5
Before continuing on let me give you my roundup (for all who can’t be bothered to do a bunch of reading):
- Chicken was pretty damn good.
- Jalapeño Cheese Bombers were delicious.
- Mashed potatoes in gravy were meh at best.
- Surly staff.
- Owner? Manager? doesn’t know how to behave to customers.
- Out of the way location (for me).
On to the full, wordy review of my experience at Church’s Chicken’s only known location at St. Clair West & Dufferin in Toronto:
I went into the location and struck up a conversation with 3 high school guys who were there because one of them wanted to visit this chicken mecca – this was, in my books, a good sign. I asked them their opinion on what I should get and the one I was speaking to opined I shouldn’t get the “Mexicana” sandwich because it was essentially the same thing as the “Tex Supreme” only it had nacho chips in it and he didn’t like chips in his food. Now, I guess this kid has never been to camp or boarding school because back in my day we used to OFTEN put some plain chips in our deli meat sandwiches but maybe we were just a bunch of nutcases or maybe we were on to something that Church’s has figured out as well (if you ask any of my teachers I am sure they would probably say we were the former not the latter). Anyway, I decided to go with the Tex Supreme combo after talking – briefly – with the lady behind the counter. I ended the conversation with that lady as quickly as possible because she was not very nice…she acted as if I should know all about the different menu choices and was surprised that I was even asking questions. First off lady, you’re franchise is the only location in Canada east of the Rocky Mountains so being a first timer shouldn’t be such a surprise and second, you guys don’t list your sandwiches’ ingredients on the giant billboard on top of your head so how am I supposed to know what’s in the sandwiches?
“Oh no sir, sorry, you can only get from the top two rows in place of the fries.”
“OK, well what if I pay extra to have it replaced?”
“OK, I guess I will have them as a second side then,” because I really wanted to try them.
“Would you like 4 for $2.99 or 8 for [I can’t remember the price I just stared at her in disbelief].”
“But your sign clearly depicts many more than 4 Jalapeño Cheese Bombers with the price on the label of $2.99.”
“We don’t make the sign, how many would you like?”
Amazed, I chose the option for 4 – total tally for my meal $11.05. Wow, this place is expensive! It had better be freaking DELICIOUS!
Side Note: For the picture above with almost the full menu and the counter included I did not attempt to hide the fact that I was taking it. I pulled out my BlackBerry and started to take the picture, holding it up right in front of my face and focusing. Once I decided that I couldn’t get quite the shot I wanted, I moved back to get a better, wider, angle. As I am setting up to take the picture the owner? manager? rudely asks me what I am doing taking the picture and if I am planning on opening my own Church’s Chicken. I look at him in bewilderment and rather than try to explain that I am tweeting these pictures and putting them on Foursquare and Yelp I just say – “I write a blog”. He keeps looking at me until I put my camera away and as I wait for my meal.
I get my meal and I walk over to a side table and take a picture of it before I dig in – in retrospect I probably should have gotten a better picture of the actual sandwich but can’t do much about it now and I was hungry – and then it was off to the races.
- First, the sandwich: I ordered it spicy and it did have a decent spice to it, not an overpowering spice but a tasty one so good job on that Church’s Chicken. It looked quite pale, wasn’t golden, had barely any crispy-crunchiness to it but all in all still tasted good. I don’t know if I would rate it best chicken ever but it was definitely quite good.
- Second, the mashed potatoes and gravy: Meh. I do not recommend trying this if you ever go there. Maybe the fries are the better choice because the gravy was so watery and tasted so processed and out of a box that it just ruined the mashed potatoes for me.
- Third, the Jalapeño Cheese Bombers: In a word – Delicious. They could have been bigger and should have been as they cost slightly under $0.75+tax each but I really liked them. Did they taste better than any sports bar’s Jalapeño Poppers that I have had in the past? Nope. I am just a fan of deep fried cheese stuffed jalapeños in general so this is probably why I quite enjoyed these. For the price though, they weren’t worth it but seeing as I made the trek out there they were the saving grace of the entire experience.
All in all, I don’t think this was the experience my friends had in mind when they told me it was the best chicken ever. I know I am not the hugest fried chicken fan to begin
with but I still expected more than this from the franchise. I have to agree with what my friend Julio (on Twitter he is @Fashionights) said when he saw I had been tweeting about it – it probably won’t last in that location for longer than 6-8 more months (unless they get their act together and start learning something about customer service). In a way, I feel sorry for all the loyal Church’s Chicken fans in the Greater Toronto Area as they truly love this brand and it is being badly represented by this location. I hope Church’s Chicken takes more interest in their outpost franchise and starts working to make it better and improve the brand image. However, I don’t really see this happening as Church’s Chicken’s own store locator can’t be bothered to be updated to have a mention of the place on their website why would they take an interest in the actual location in of itself? If they were going to do that it would probably mean sending people out to Toronto to look at the store and see how it treats people. It would mean sending in mystery shoppers and seeing how they are treated. I would love to see an episode of the show Undercover Boss where they send the boss of Church’s Chicken to this location – that’d be eye opening for the boss to say the least.
Also this has to make me wonder, do they even bother checking who they are granting the franchise to? Seems like they aren’t.