Ranking Tim Hortons locations should be a mug's game given that the whole idea of the monster corporation is to ensure consistency across its franchises. Still, anyone who's ever been to more than a few locations knows that they are not all created equally. From service to decor to the hours they keep, some Tim Hortons shine while others are the source of frustration.
Here are my picks for the best and worst Tim Hortons locations in Toronto.
85 Laird Drive
Hands down the nicest Tim Hortons that I've been to, this location even sports a fireplace and the contemporary decor treatment that brings with it leather-style chairs. There's no drive thru here, but lineups are kept in check through the week (there can be flare ups on Saturday mornings). Staff here seem happy to work in a Tim Hortons that actually looks nice.
481 University Avenue
Here's a Tim Hortons location that's noteworthy merely for being well tended to. The busiest locations tend to fall into a state after a rush of customers, but this location seems immune to this problem. Bonus points for a speedy WiFi signal (a rarity at Tim Hortons in my experience).
815 Caledonia Rd.
Tim Hortons locations that have ample parking and a drive thru option (such is the case here) tend to have the most consistent service because the lineups are balance inside and out of the store. This location also benefits from relatively low traffic levels outside of rush hour. And though it's open 24 hours, it's not overrun with students.
1195 Danforth Ave.
This is a rather pedestrian Tim Hortons counter adjacent to an Esso gas station, but huge points are awarded for the preserved Allenby Theatre facade that fronts Danforth. They even did a good job in keeping the marquee -- not something you'd necessarily expect from Tim Hortons.
589 King St. East
One of the newer Tim Hortons with the "Coffee House" branding, this location on King East tends to attract mostly pedestrian customers and so tends to have manageable lines. The seating area is small but the place is rarely busy enough for that to be a problem. The decor is in the upper echelon of these franchises.
171 East Liberty St.
The Tim Hortons in Liberty Village benefits from the abundance of other coffee options in the area in that there's usually a place to sit. A notch against the location is that there's often confusion around where to lineup during the morning rush, but points are awarded for the regular availability of soy milk, modern decor, and being open 24 hours.
148 Simcoe St.
This is a relatively new and nice-looking Tim Hortons location that makes it onto the worst list for one reason: the ridiculousness of its layout and lineup system. The queue regularly snakes out the door and onto the street during the morning rush, and only regulars seem to know that the third cash even exists. It's a daily farce.
2700 Dufferin St.
Sometimes it's hard to explain why a given location of a franchise is worse than the rest, though here it might be chalked up to spatial constraints and the lack of a drive thru. Whatever the reason, the turnaround time on orders here is grating and stress fills the air. Perhaps everyone's nerves are already on edge from waiting at the nearby Service Ontario counter?
2708 Keele St.
This is another semi-suburban location without a drive thru that gets completely slammed on both weekday and Saturday mornings. The parking lot is almost unfailingly a disaster except late a night when the plaza becomes deserted. I've never managed to get WiFi signal here.
246 Bloor St. West
Not everyone will agree with this selection, but this Tim Hortons is overrun with U of T students who rather study here than Robarts. This means that seating is always difficult to secure and the constancy of traffic tends to befuddle management who struggle to keep tables clean. It was once open 24 hours, but now closes at 2 a.m., which doesn't help with all-night cramming sessions.
What did I miss? Add your suggestions for the best and worst Tim Hortons locations in Toronto via the comments.
Photo by Jesse Milns.
by Derek Flack via blogTO