Nostalgia is a funny old thing.
It made your dad want to bring back the royal blue Sabres jerseys. Never mind the fact that royal blue isn’t the most flattering color when draped over a blueberry-shaped Dad Bod.
At Mister Sizzle’s, owners Casey and Chris Casas go hard on bringing back the best bits of classic hamburger joints, while trying to move on from some of the more problematic ones.
If you long for the days of sitting down with your family over a bunch of wallet-friendly burgers, Mister Sizzle is your guy. If you’re a West Sider looking for a neighborhood happy hour spot, Mister Sizzle is your dude. If you’re a vegan teetotaler with celiac disease, you can still f—- with Mister Sizzle.
That’s right. Although Mister Sizzle’s might be an aesthetic throwback, its modern inclusivity is anything but.
Casey Cases recently told me her decision to stop drinking alcohol gave her a whole new perspective on culinary inclusivity.
“I’m not vegan. I love burgers, which is why we opened up a burger restaurant,” she laughed. “But, me not drinking anymore made me kind of look at menus in a different way: If I feel uncomfortable and weird, or feel like I don’t have enough options as somebody who doesn’t drink alcohol, I can only imagine what it’s like for someone that doesn’t eat meat. Or if someone needs gluten-free food, they often have to pay extra for a gluten-free roll.
“So when we were setting our menus, we wanted to be as respectful as possible to the needs of our community.”
The food menu includes 10 different kinds of burgers ($8-12), 3 different chicken sandwiches ($12), french fries ($4), sweet potato fries ($5), poutine ($7) and house made pork rinds ($5). Vegetarian burgers are an additional $2.50. A five-pack of classic cheeseburgers is $35, and a 10-pack is $65.
The non-alcoholic drink menu includes milkshakes ($7), floats ($6) and dairy-free shakes ($8). The bar menu includes a range of local, non-local and craft beers ($5-7), shots ($6), cocktails ($9), ice cream cocktails ($12), mocktails ($6) and “booze free” shots ($4).
On our visit, we found the cheeseburger to be as classic as advertised, and the malt chocolate milkshake was as thick and creamy as you’d want a premium version to be. For a shade over $15 (without tip), it was a decadent and filling lunch.
“My husband and I have two kids,” Casas said. “We love going out to eat, but we don’t super love going out with the kids. Because it gets pricey and sometimes it’s hard to find something for everyone. So we wanted to make our food approachable and affordable for families.”
Mister Sizzle’s classic family-friendly brand may give a nod to nostalgia, but the thing about the Good Ol’ Days is that — some of it wasn’t all that good. For decades, the restaurant industry has been a breeding ground for all kinds of abuse: sexual, misogynistic, racist, homophobic, transphobic, xenophobic and financial.
To the credit of the Casas, they aren’t having any of it at their new family-friendly burger joint. Part of the company’s stated mission is offering livable wages and having an open door policy when it comes to reporting any type of abuse.
“Honestly, anybody that’s worked in the restaurant industry has some sort of horror story from working in it,” Casas said.
As tasty as the Mister Sizzle’s retro experience is, it’s even more satisfying to see people in authority not falling into the trappings of the same old, same old.
“It’s been really interesting to see the change happen over the course of the last year,” Casas said. “With everybody leaving their jobs or being laid off because of the pandemic – there’s been kind of a shift. The restaurant workers have the upper hand and they’re saying, ‘We need more and we’re here to work, but we want to be treated fairly, the way anybody else would in any other industry.”
Opening Hours: Monday to Saturday 11 a.m. – 11 p.m.
Want to share info or news with us? Send us a note!