Gus & Tony's
Address: 2015 Portage Avenue
Phone Number: 204-414-5508
Neighbourhood: St. James (near Assiniboine Park)
There are some businesses you walk into and you immediately know the customer is king.
Gus & Tony's, a new Greek-style diner and burger house, is like that.
It helps that Gus Vailas, one half of this father and son proprietorship, greets virtually every customer at the door with a big smile. And then runs food, takes orders, pours coffees and visits tables to chat up his guests.
"I love to cook and I have a passion for this," says Vailas.
It also helps that Vailas is a self-described "people's guy."
Vailas has been in the local restaurant business on and off for 25 years.
His family is the original owner of Junior's on Henderson Highway and Daly's Burgers, both old-school burger, fries and chiliburger stops that are home to Winnipeg's beloved Fat Boy (a chili-sauce smothered hamburger). The family was also behind The Burger Place, another Winnipeg burger institution just down the road from their new Portage Avenue eatery.
Three and a half years ago, the family moved back to Winnipeg after a several year stint in Greece, their homeland. Since then Vailas, who was working locally as an aircraft mechanic, has been looking for an opportunity to get back in to the restaurant business.
The former home of Park Tower became free in Fall 2012. Vailas and his son Tony, a graduate of Red River College's hotel and restaurant management program, jumped at the chance.
Their latest venture—the 84-seat Gus & Tony's—opened in January, 2013 and is a happy amalgamation of home-style Greek diner food, Canadian lunch favourites and made-fresh-daily burgers and Fat Boys.
Before reopening as Gus & Tony's, the space underwent a much overdue freshening up with a fresh coat of bright blue paint and other upgrades in the dining room and kitchen.
The menu is a classic mash-up of Greek favourites like gyros, spanakopita, souvlaki with North American diner favourites like eggs and bacon, Denver sandwiches, hot dogs, BLTs and burgers.
There are nine different burgers with add-ons like grilled mushrooms, bacon or an extra meat patty. All burgers are loaded with chili, mustard, onions, pickles--making them a Winnipeg Fat Boy, by definition.
Gus & Tony's make their burgers fresh daily and it shows. The burgers are flavourful, meaty, tender and juicy. A dollop of dripping chill adds extra depth and a slight uptick in heat. Oh, and the burgers are enormous. You will definitely need two hands and loads of napkins to tame this monster.
Fresh-cut fries are crispy and brown on the outside and tender and full of potato flavour on the inside.
A grilled chicken gyro hit the spot with lots of garlicky tzatziki, chunks of ripe red tomato, crunchy shredded lettuce and scads of sliced red onions.
From its home-style burgers to its classic sandwich counter fare, Gus & Tony's isn't fancy and that's fine. It's not trying to be. Gus & Tony's serves fine, from-scratch, home-style food that hits the spot.
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