By Denise Bacon
Randy Zhang, owner of Ted’s Restaurant, has been serving up much more than breakfast for a long time! The restaurant seems to have become one of the film industry’s favourite locations in east Toronto, especially over the last five or six years. Quite often, customers must find other places for their eggs over easy and cups of coffee while production crews have interesting looking equipment and lights set up for filming inside and outside at Ted’s.
It is mostly TV series that use Ted’s as a location. Familiar scenes of the restaurant can be seen in shows such as The Handmaid’s Tale, Titans, Lost Girl and Orphan Black. Keifer Sutherland, star of Designated Survivor, was filming at the restaurant and Randy described Keifer as “a very nice guy with a deep voice.” Maggie Q, an international star who plays the role of Nikita in the series of the same name, was also filming at Ted’s. Sometimes, Ted’s appears under its own name and other times the restaurant is “dressed up” with another identity.
The music video “She Gets Me” by The Washboard Union showcases the Ted’s we know well inside and outside. The video is easily found on YouTube.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spent time filming inside the restaurant recently. Ted’s may be spotted in various commercials, including one for RBC. Ted’s has an American audience, too, as an American meat company produced a commercial there for the market in the U.S.
Blushingly, Randy acknowledged that he is sometimes asked to be an extra in scenes. He and his staff can be seen in some of the productions. While Ted’s kitchen is always closed during filming for health and safety reasons, the restaurant often prepares the food that is used in scenes. Randy said that little of the food is actually eaten during the filming. Actors just take small bites in character.
The iconic diner look is what attracts various productions to Ted’s Restaurant. When the restaurant was renovated, the contractor was surprised that Randy wanted the refurbished restaurant to look just the same as before the renovation!
All the TV series, videos and movies are free advertising for Ted’s. Randy told a story of a woman and her family who drove from Quebec City specifically to come to Ted’s. The woman had seen Ted’s in an episode of Orphan Black, which stirred a memory of herself and her husband in a similar setting. She waited to sit in the exact same booth as in the show to recreate that memory of her husband.
Customers from all over the GTA come to Ted’s because of having seen the restaurant on TV or in a movie and they always seem to enjoy the experience of the restaurant itself and of seeing familiar faces from background scenes.
Randy says that his customers are his number one priority. While all the filming does bring in extra revenue, customers keep him motivated and engaged in the restaurant. Regular customers know this, and they patiently wait for Ted’s to reopen after a day or so of filming is completed.
Customers will need to be patient again this fall as Ted’s will be closed for a few days for the filming of American Gods, Season 3!