The Real McCoy enjoying revival after moving to new location

The Real McCoy is a Scarborough institution. As part of the Citytv original documentary Veracity: The Melting Pot, Nick Westoll explains the special place this restaurant has for thousands not only in the east end, but all across Toronto.

By Nick Westoll

Burger places in Toronto are a dime a dozen across the city but you’ll find few that have been around as long as The Real McCoy. That’s because of owner George Mihail.

Mihail’s father opened the original burger spot on Markham Road 55 years ago. 

“I still remember walking in, I was seven years old at the time, walking in, and I thought it was going to be a restaurant. [But] they were only selling bread here. Dad goes, ‘No, no, no. Next month we’re going take it over. We’re going to build a restaurant’,” said Mihail.

He worked there for 17 years alongside the man he affectionately calls, “Pops” before buying into the business himself.

“It needed a little bit of change and the opportunity came and I was just recently married at the time … we decided to go into it and the rest, I guess, is history.”

Mihail and his father Louie were an unstoppable duo, working seven days a week almost every week.

Until one day, “I remember the last Sunday, we were open. It was Easter. All the employees, no one wanted to work that day. So me and dad are working and stuff. So he was doing onion rings and I was serving whatever. And my wife and my sister came up and I remember because they just brought all the food, whatever he had like the lamb or whatever it was, big spread and stuff,” explained Mihail.

“He would just looked and stared and started going and within two seconds, click, click, click, turn off all the gas, turn off the pizza oven and stuff, turn off the fryer, hit the back lights, go get your jacket. Let’s get the hell out of here. The girls pulled in the driveway. We were about five minutes behind them and never look backed on Sundays again,” he recalled fondly.

Louie passed away in 2015, but his son kept the restaurant going until 2022. “And I got the letter on June 1 that we had to vacate the restaurant,” said Mihail. “and I got to be out of here in six months, so that was a big shock.”

Mihail made that public a few months later and the community rallied around the small restaurant, lining up in a blizzard for a final bite. CityNews was there on the last day of service and were there less than a year later when they opened their doors again, just a few blocks away.

The Real McCoy found a new home on Lawrence Street and Bellamy Avenue. The new location is little bigger than the old spot, but still has the same menu, and much of the same staff, including Mihail’s wife Sophie.

While they are both happy with where things are now, they have big dreams for the future of the Real McCoy. “I would like to open a couple more restaurants. in Scarborough .

“I would like a couple more restaurant but not just for me so that I would like other people to experience how I experienced it. I want it to be a family-run kind of restaurant. I would like that to, so someone else could have their own business, and be a part of a community because we were
such a big part of the community in Scarborough,” said Mihail.

“I’d like to be able to keep this legacy going. Not so much just the food or just another business, but the way it’s run. We were rewarded maybe not with an abundance of money, but the experiences and being able to help others in our community is something can’t even explain with words. And I hope we can pass that on,” added Sophie.

Watch the original documentary, Veracity: The Melting Pot, Sunday June 16 at 10 p.m. ET for more on the restaurants that shape Toronto.

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