Burger Drops is one of Toronto’s premier smash burger restaurants that has become a destination spot for the Liberty Village community, their GTA neighbours, and beyond. Owned and created by former Aloette Sous Chef, Greg Bourolias, Burger Drops has modernized the classic smash burger, and the proof is in the patty. Using nothing but the best ingredients; quality, detail, and precision is the Burger Drops way. What started from a friend’s backyard birthday party and sold-out weekend pop-ups, has grown to a fully realized brick and mortar store in the heart of Toronto’s Liberty Village.
In our latest Tenant Spotlight, we take you through the Burger Drops story and how Greg Bourolias and his team built their burger empire from the ground up. It is success stories like these that shape our neighbourhoods and urban communities by helping them thrive, grow, and become gathering places.
As long as he can remember, Greg has always had a passion for food. Growing up in a big Greek family, some of his fondest memories come from his family’s Sunday dinners. His father owned a successful restaurant and Greg’s passion for cooking grew by watching him in the kitchen and seeing the joy food brought to their customers, friends, and family.
Following in his father’s footsteps, Greg became a professional chef and worked in some of Toronto’s most beloved restaurants. His expertise, skill, and natural talent that he garnered from his childhood really paid off.
Back in 2018, Greg was working as a Sous Chef at popular Toronto restaurant, Aloette. Although he enjoyed his role, he always dreamt of opening his own restaurant one day. Cheeseburgers were one of his favourite comfort foods and who doesn’t love a classic burger? From there, he started experimenting and asking himself, “what does my ideal burger taste like?” and eventually came across the smash burger concept.
Burgers are a universal love language– Greg Bourolias, Burger Drops’ Chef & Owner
When he’s passionate about something, Greg is someone who dives 100% all in and his smash burger concept is no exception. He began testing out different ingredients and flavour profiles, sharing his creations with friends and family. Everything was perfected – from the fat to meat ratio, caliber of bun, temperature and minutes on the grill, balance of toppings, complexity of condiments, to the harmony of spices and seasoning. This kind of love and attention to detail is still incorporated in everything they do to this day.
During the process of perfecting his product, the small, but mighty Burger Drops community continuously shared their burgers on social media and Toronto foodies were taking notes. That summer, friends of Greg asked him to cater their birthday party, so he and his girlfriend Kat walked in with their portable Blackstone barbeque and made some smash burgers. Not only were the burgers a hit among the guests, but the couple had shared them on social media which caused even more buzz and excitement. People wanted to know where they could get their hands on these mouth-watering marvels!
From their growing social media presence and ongoing requests from followers, he decided to hold a pop-up event. Without any experience, Greg rented a unit at College and Bathurst on Canada Day and the overflow of guests endlessly lined the streets of Toronto. From there, Burger Drops really took off and they held 5 more pop-ups which hosted hundreds of guests – many of which had seconds!
Fast forward to the beginning of March 2020 – Greg had a whole summer’s worth of pop-ups booked. He knew his business was rapidly growing and was confident he could take it far and wide. At this point, Greg was working six days a week at Aloette and using his one day off at the pop-ups. Greg decided to take the entrepreneurial leap and pursue his Burger Drops dream full-time.
Not even two weeks later, the unexpected happened. The pandemic forced Greg to cancel all their spring and summer pop-ups to avoid any in-person events. He had to figure out a way to get his burgers to people as the demand kept growing. Pivoting in the face of adversity, Greg came up with the idea to do pre-orders and curb-side pick ups. Luckily, the apps and technology needed to support this was growing for the survival of the food service industry. The wait was finally over; upon introducing this new feature to guests via social media, their pre-orders were fully sold out daily – a significant milestone for Greg, his team, and growing business.
By the time the leaves started to change, business was booming for Burger Drops. Their pre-orders had been selling out all summer, they engaged in several successful partnerships with other local restaurants, their social media had thousands of followers, and guests from all over the GTA and beyond were flocking to the city to try their iconic smash burgers.
Though their COVID-safe pre-orders and curb-side pick ups were wildly successful, Greg knew this would not be sustainable for guests having to wait outside in the cold winter months. As fun as the pop-ups were, they weren’t a long-term option. The business was steadily growing, their menu was expanding, and more and more people wanted their food.
This inevitably triggered the idea of opening their first permanent, brick and mortar store. Greg wanted something that could sustain more guests, support their growth, the convenience of a stationary fully functioning kitchen, a gathering spot for their guests, and most importantly a place to call home. A fully realized retail store also meant they could finally build a lasting relationship with neighbourhood members.
Coincidentally, First Capital’s very own Toronto foodie, Susanna Cheng, was a loyal customer of Burger Drops from the start. She had attended almost all of their sold-out pops and pre-orders and continuously suggested they open a store with us. When Greg was ready to make the retail plunge and take Burger Drops to the next level, he knew just who to call.
Fostering the relationship between Greg and our super leasing team, we were able to find a space that fit his every need right here in the heart of Liberty Village. Previously a Poutinerie, this two-level 1900+ sf space provided the perfect layout including a fully built-out kitchen, ample storage, and space for guests to sit. Not to mention its accessibility along Atlantic Ave and adjacency to the highly trafficked King Street West made for the perfect recipe. Everyone loves burgers, but because of the residents around Liberty Village, the neighbourhood is always supportive and ready to welcome local, small businesses such as Burger Drops.
We’re honoured to have some of the best guests in Toronto… They’re always gracious and excited to try our food. With Liberty Village, you can feel the support from our local community.– Kat Gaskin, Burger Drops’ Director of Creative & Community
Burger Drops opened its doors in September 2020 and has become a Liberty Village institution, as well as a destination spot attracting people from all over Toronto, the GTA, Vaughan, Barrie, Milton, Waterloo, and beyond – it is no secret their burgers have become a Southern-Ontario sensation.
Their food needs no introduction – the flavours, textures, and freshness speak for themselves. Their most popular burger, the Double Original, is Burger Drops in a burger. Its flavour profile is Greg’s idea of the most perfect cheeseburger. From burgers and chicken sandwiches to veggie patties; curly, crinkle, and cheese fries; paired with a classic soda and choice of decadent dessert – they’ve refined a classic combo with a twist.
A simple burger and fries doesn’t really command a lot of respect but we care about our food and everything that goes into it… We love what we do and we love our people, so why not feed them the best?– Greg Bourolias, Burger Drops’ Chef & Owner
Everything is perfected. From Burger Drops’ famous Jalapeño Relish, never frozen AAA beef, in-house pickles, hand-crafted condiments, to using Martin’s Potato Rolls (their go-to puffy, pillowy-soft bun). Even their cheese sauce is hand made and created in-house for quality assurance. Desserts are not an afterthought either; they hand-mix their whipped cream, make their own brown butter cereal crumb, and self-caramelize their salted caramel.
What really makes them stand out is their incredible attention to detail, use of the highest quality ingredients, top notch made-to-order freshness, talented professional chefs and team, and everything is made in-house with love and care. In fact, their produce, meat, and other ingredients are shipped fresh to their doorstep every morning. You know when you enter the Drop Shop or order delivery online, you’re getting simply the best.
Now in it’s second year here in Liberty Village, First Capital couldn’t be prouder of the sheer success and well-deserved admiration Burger Drops has received. In fact, they were named #26 in Yelp’s top places to eat in Canada (all voted in by the people), their veggie burger placed in the top 9 of Toronto Life’s best burgers in the city (list includes beef burgers as well), and have been featured in BlogTO twice: read the most recent one here and the other here.
The future of Burger Drops is bright, and we look forward to seeing them grow even more. From searching for their second location, expanding their team to innovating their menu, they are thriving more and more everyday!