In Edmonton’s downtown, situated on Jasper Ave, a new burger restaurant has opened up in the middle of a pandemic. Wayback Burgers, whose very name conjures up an image of a ‘50s burger joint with drive-up ordering and staff on roller skates, is a franchise that first started in 1991 in Newark, Delaware, USA. With restaurants around the world, the Wayback Burgers brand broke into the Canadian market through the province of Manitoba before expanding to
Saskatchewan, Alberta, and British Columbia. But this isn’t your standard franchise, says Anood Khan, who is a co-franchiser of the Jasper Avenue location with partner Harvir Toor.
“Of course, as with any franchise, there are rules that we have to follow, but they were great and were happy with our concept of having a fullsize bar. We are the only restaurant like this. Gosh, most are only half the size we are.”
With that full-size bar and ample seating, Wayback Burgers makes a great study spot during the day and an even better hangout at night. But none of this compares to the number one thing that will keep bringing you back here: the food.
Though the restaurant features a clean and modern design, the burger nostalgia of the pre-fast-food era — when burgers were quality comfort food and not just something slapped together on the go — remains. Here you will find fresh and local ingredients in made-to-order burgers that you can customize how you like. Khan says their food is most important, and when they say local, they mean it. From local meat to the buns, nothing is imported in as a franchise. “The main thing is our food! It’s affordable, and it’s good,” she says.
Saying the food is “good” may be an understatement. The burgers are mouth-watering, and the fries are fresh and crisp. Their chilli fries are phenomenal if you’re looking for something slightly different. To drink, you can’t go wrong with the old-fashioned lemonade or any of their cold and thick milkshakes, which I can only describe as dessert in a cup. But if a burger is not in your wheelhouse, there is also a plethora of other sandwiches to choose from. No matter what choice you make, the portions are hearty and sure to satisfy your hunger.
Wayback has had quite an uphill battle since its opening, with Khan saying they initially had a large number of staff trained and ready to work only to have to cut back due to restrictions. Further, they have struggled with the ups and downs of the many COVID waves that affected even the most established businesses but have wreaked havoc on those just getting started.
Khan says they have seen primarily take-out orders with very little in restaurant traffic, making the space very quiet. When my family had the opportunity to enjoy Wayback in person, we had the entire place to ourselves with only the sound of the music and the hustle and bustle of the kitchen working on getting out take-out orders.
Nonetheless, Khan is grateful for the business that has kept them busy thus far. She has plans for the future with hopes for a restaurant busy with take-out orders and a dining room filled with lively conversation and patrons enjoying meals prepared with care by staff.
Wayback Burgers on Jasper Avenue is open:
• Monday – Thursday: 11 a.m. – 9:30 p.m.
• Friday: 11 a.m. – 10:30 p.m.
• Saturday: 12 – 10:30 p.m.
• Sunday: 12 – 9:30 p.m.
Photo: Brett Boyd