Blondie’s Burgers owner bids farewell after more than 30 years



We have good news and bad news.

The good news is that cows no longer have to shake in their boots, mess up, hooves, fearing Sandy Doyle will turn them into a two, three, or (burp) nine pound burger.

The bad news: Doyle, the enigmatic 68-year-old owner of Blondie’s Burgers, may be best known for his XXXL-sized dishes (Quarter Milkshakes! Four-Sausage Hot Dogs! Chili Cheese Fries for six!), will permanently close its restaurant, such an iconic spot as you will find in our fair trade borough, later this week.

Doyle, who opened Blondies at 1969 Main St. in September 1990, originally listed Jan. 20 as her last day behind the grill when she announced her decision on Facebook on New Year’s Day. She has since moved that date back to this weekend, simply because things have gotten so hectic there since news broke that she can’t bear to keep customers waiting until four o’clock anymore. for their order.

JESSICA LEE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Sandy Doyle, owner of Blondie’s Burgers, will permanently close his restaurant.” width=”2048″ height=”1534″ srcset=”https://media.winnipegfreepress.com/images/400*400/NEP101582_web_220111-blondies-20.jpg 400w,https://media.winnipegfreepress.com/images/600*600/NEP101582_web_220111-blondies-20.jpg 700w,https://media.winnipegfreepress.com/images/800*800/NEP101582_web_220111-blondies-20.jpg 900w,https://media.winnipegfreepress.com/images/1000*1000/NEP101582_web_220111-blondies-20.jpg 1000w”/>

JESSICA LEE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Sandy Doyle, owner of Blondie’s Burgers, will permanently close his restaurant.

“I kid you not, it stresses me out endlessly,” Doyle says, sitting in her 36-seat restaurant, where the decor, which includes a famous handwritten do’s and don’ts list (“If your order is wrong , it’s your fault”; “If you have any issues with the prices, the staff, or the way this place is run, McDonald’s is down the street”), is as much a part of the experience as what is on the plate.

“At first I thought I would stop on Friday. Except a group from Saskatchewan just called to say they can’t get here until Saturday, and can I please stay open one day more. How could I say no to people willing to drive 500 miles for a fucking burger?” she said throwing her head back laughing.

Doyle, born and raised in Carman, moved from Kenora to Winnipeg in the mid-1980s after her marriage ended. She first got a job selling insurance. However, her hours were all over the map and, imagining herself to be a good cook, she decided to open a restaurant instead.

“How could I say no to people willing to travel 800 kilometers for a fucking burger?” -Sandy Doyle

Blondie’s, a label the redhead came up with as she stood in line to register her business (if she’d had a dollar for every time she’s called Blondie, she’d have retired 15 years ago, says she with a wink), opened as a breakfast and lunch nook. To say his first day on the job was memorable is an understatement.

“It was absolutely awful,” she said, pausing to transfer calls from a phone that had been ringing for 10 minutes. “Seven guys showed up seconds after nine (am) and they were already drunk. I was all alone, the girl I hired never showed up, and for the next hour they just shouted things like, “Where’s our eating food? and, ‘Show us your…, Blondie.’ I remember kneeling in the back, crying and wondering what I got myself into.”

Things got better, of course, especially after Doyle, bored one afternoon, started experimenting with the size of a burger she could produce, while still being able to flip it. She started with two pounds of ground meat pie, increased to four, and continued until, when all was said, done, and grilled, she had managed to whip up a nine-pound burger.



<p>JESSICA LEE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS</p>
<p>Eating at Blondie’s meant following the owner’s rules of etiquette.</p>
<p>“width=”2048″ height=”1377” srcset=”https://media.winnipegfreepress.com/images/400*400/NEP101582_web_220111-blondies-17.jpg 400w,https://media.winnipegfreepress.com/images /600*600/NEP101582_web_220111-blondies-17.jpg 600w,https://media.winnipegfreepress.com/images/700*700/NEP101582_web_220111-blondies-17.jpg 700w,https://media.winnipegfreepress.com/images /800*800/NEP101582_web_220111-blondies-17.jpg 800w,https://media.winnipegfreepress.com/images/900*900/NEP101582_web_220111-blondies-17.jpg 900w,https://media.winnipegfreepress.com/images /1000*1000/NEP101582_web_220111-blondies-17.jpg 1000w”/>				</a><figcaption>
<p>JESSICA LEE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS</p>
<p>Eating at Blondie’s meant following the owner’s rules of etiquette.</p>
</figcaption></figure>
<p>She quickly added the juggernaut to the menu as a challenge: polish it in one two-hour session and it was on the house.			</p>
<p>Soon after, TV guys from across the country were dropping by to feature Blondie’s on programs such as <em>you have to eat here</em> and <em>Get stuffed</em>.  This has brought customers from as far away as Australia, Iceland and Japan to try their hand at Doyle’s signature burger.			</p>
<p>Because it takes so long to prepare and because she’s already struggling to keep up with demand, Doyle is no longer offering the nine-pounder, last priced at $170.50.  This means that a girl named Jana, who Doyle said weighed “120 soaking pounds” when she fell about 20 years ago, will be the only person in history to manage to swallow the burger within the time limit. allotted.			</p>
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“Although, to be honest, it probably won’t even affect me until I return the keys at the end of the month.” -Sandy Doyle

Doyle has kept Blondie’s open during the various provincially mandated lockdowns, relying largely on delivery services to get his food to the masses. The problem was that she was working for pennies, she discovered, after factoring in the applied fees and ever-increasing food costs.

She guesses it was around September when her brother Greg, who looks after her books, told her bluntly that she was likely to burn through her retirement savings if she chose to continue under current conditions. That, coupled with the fact that she couldn’t sit and trade barbs with her clientele as she was used to due to health regulations, convinced the grandmother of three that it was time to park his apron for good.

Doyle, always a fashionista (on the day we sit down with her, she’s wearing a black and white three-quarter length dress, complete with black high-heeled ankle boots and matching jewelry), has yet to decide what to wear. she will come out of the closet for her farewell.

RUTH BONNEVILLE / DOSSIERS DE PRESSE GRATUITS</p>
<p> People from all over the world have come to Blondie’s to try their luck devouring Doyle’s two, three or nine pound burger.” width=”2048″ height=”1364″ srcset=”https://media.winnipegfreepress.com /images/400*400/151208+Blondies+Burgers+2+.jpg 400w,https://media.winnipegfreepress.com/images/600*600/151208+Blondies+Burgers+2+.jpg 600w,https:/ /media.winnipegfreepress.com/images/700*700/151208+Blondies+Burgers+2+.jpg 700w,https://media.winnipegfreepress.com/images/800*800/151208+Blondies+Burgers+2+. jpg 800w,https://media.winnipegfreepress.com/images/900*900/151208+Blondies+Burgers+2+.jpg 900w,https://media.winnipegfreepress.com/images/1000*1000/151208+Blondies +Burgers+2+.jpg 1000w”/>				</a><figcaption>
<p>RUTH BONNEVILLE / FREE PRESS KITS</p>
<p>People from all over the world have come to Blondie’s to try their luck with Doyle’s two, three or nine pound burger.</p>
</figcaption></figure>
<p>She also doesn’t know if she’ll be able to hold on without tearing herself apart every 10 minutes.			</p>
<p>“Although, to be honest, it probably won’t even affect me until I return the keys at the end of the month,” she says, noting that the plan is to spend the last two weeks of January in selling coolers, tables, chairs…even the larger-than-life fake burgers that have been decorating the place for three decades.			</p>
<p>Plus, if one of the hundreds of photos that adorn the walls is a photo of you and yours, be her guest if you want it back, she says.			</p>
<figure class= 

<p>JESSICA LEE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS</p>
<p>The décor at Blondie’s Burgers is as much a part of the experience as the food.</p>
<p>” width=”2048″ height=”1365″ srcset=”https://media.winnipegfreepress.com/images/400*400/NEP101582_web_220111-blondies-18.jpg 400w,https://media.winnipegfreepress.com/images /600*600/NEP101582_web_220111-blondies-18.jpg 600w,https://media.winnipegfreepress.com/images/700*700/NEP101582_web_220111-blondies-18.jpg 700w,https://media.winnipegfreepress.com/images /800*800/NEP101582_web_220111-blondies-18.jpg 800w,https://media.winnipegfreepress.com/images/900*900/NEP101582_web_220111-blondies-18.jpg 900w,https://media.winnipegfreepress.com/images /1000*1000/NEP101582_web_220111-blondies-18.jpg 1000w”/>				</a><figcaption>
<p>JESSICA LEE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS</p>
<p>The décor at Blondie’s Burgers is as much a part of the experience as the food.</p>
</figcaption></figure>
<p>“The times I felt the worst was when I went online and read all the nice notes, including a lot of people who started coming here with their parents and are now showing up with their own children,” she said.  says, reading a message posted seconds earlier that begins, “My very first visit, I was four years old and I still remember…the taste of the shake…Winnipeg will never be the same again.”			</p>
<p>Before apologizing to inform a group of 10 people lined up outside that she won’t open for 45 minutes, at least not until her only employee arrives, she allows 32 years to pass in one wink.  And that even if it wasn’t all sunshine and lollipops, she wouldn’t trade a second.  OK, maybe those occasions when she was described online as an evil “Nazi burger.”  (Rule #7: Ordering a milkshake when it’s busy will result in DEATH.)			</p>
<p>“It’s bittersweet, but I’m looking forward to the next chapter of my life,” she continues, adding that as a cat lover, she is already considering volunteering at a rescue center for pets.			</p>
<p>“The thing is, if you had told me in 1990 that I would still be here 32 years later, I would have said you were (swear word) nuts. So yeah, that was definitely a good run; something I should probably be proud of, right?”			</p>
<p>david.sanderson@freepress.mb.ca			</p>
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Laura J. Boyer