Blondie's Burgers: Rules of Engagement
Blondie's Burgers are worth the drive to Winnipeg's North End. Owner and chef Sandy Doyle makes a fantastic burger, which comes standard with American cheese, lettuce, bacon, onions, tomato, mayo, mustard and relish.
Whatever you do: don't steal napkins from other tables, don't ask why they're not open on Tuesdays, don't get your own drink from the cooler and don't, repeat don't, order a milkshake when it's busy.
Breaking the rules will result in a swift and sharp tongue lashing, often bellowed from within the kitchen, or worse still, an invitation to leave.
These are just a few of Sandy Doyle's golden rules for eating inside her old-school burger bar, Blondie's Burgers in Winnipeg's North End.
As proprietor and sole cook, the feisty Doyle has been manning the grill in high heels since opening shop 22 years ago.
“I have a reputation. Oh yes, I have a reputation,” Doyle says with her signature bellow-cum-booming laugh.
The rules, hand written in black paint on the diner's white walls, make for entertaining reading if nothing else.
Even when you're not in her bad books, expect a loud conversation with Doyle, who commonly emphasizes her points by turning up her volume.
She's been called the Burger Nazi in a copycat homage to the Seinfeld episode in which the Soup Nazi, a crusty and angry soup seller, yells at customers who make special requests, are too slow, or can't make up their minds.
With a love of baking and a penchant for watching cooking shows, Doyle taught herself to cook and decided to open her burger business on a whim.
Doyle's burgers, including her famous nine-pound version, which requires 24-hours advance notice to make, are legendary. When locals talk about the best burgers in town, Blondie's is always on the list.
“They're delicious because my grill has been seasoned for 20 years,” she says.
She doesn't lie.
Lunch and dinner are always brisk at Blondie's and even more so since spring, after the diner was featured on You Gotta Eat Here, a Food Network show about Canada's best eats.
Doyle and her burgers have also been featured on an Icelandic travel series, among other television shows.
Despite the yelling and the rules, she doesn't take life too seriously.
“Basically, we have a lot of fun,” says Doyle, who works 12 hours a day, six days a week and takes just four days off each year to go on a shopping trip to Las Vegas.
It's an exhausting life but Doyle seems to relish her crown as Winnipeg's burger queen.
“I like being in control and I love being creative.”