Actors clad in 1960s fashions dance and socialize in Toronto's Yonge-Dundas Square outside a replica of the first Tim Hortons restaurant, which opened in Hamilton on May 17, 1964. Courtesy of Tim Hortons
Tim Hortons is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the opening of its first location, and today the coffee and doughnut giant created a temporary replica of Store No. 1 and plopped it into a busy city square.
But the installation, staffed on Thursday with servers dressed in Mad Men-era uniforms handing out goodies to passersby, wasn’t unveiled in Hamilton, the real home of Tim Hortons’ first site.
Instead, the corporation rolled out the blast from Canada’s past in downtown Toronto's Yonge-Dundas Square.
The first Tim Hortons restaurant opened in Hamilton on May 17, 1964, inside a converted car repair garage on Ottawa Street North at Dunsmure, The restaurant took its name from founder Tim Horton, who just weeks before launching the business won the Stanley Cup with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
During Thursday's event Tim Hortons staff handed out free coffee and 20-year-old Montreal jazz singer Nikki Yanofsky performed a set of ’60s pop hits.
Over the past 50 years, Tim Hortons has grown from its Hamilton beginnings to become the dominant coffee and baked goods chain in Canada, with more than 4,000 locations, as well as approximately 800 in the U.S. and more than two dozen in the Middle East.
"Choosing just one location to host an event like this is almost impossible," said Michelle Robichaud, a representative for Tim Hortons, when asked why the event wasn't organized for Hamilton.
"But with thousands of visitors to Toronto’s Yonge-Dundas Square each day, we knew we could surprise and give back to the highest number of Tim Hortons’ guests in Toronto’s downtown core," she wrote in a Thursday statement.
Tim Hortons said it will continue to celebrate the anniversary by offering a free "birthday cake" doughnut at participating locations across Canada.
"Guests can also look forward to the release of a commemorative online video, which will capture the hearts of Tim Hortons fans who have grown up drinking Canada's favourite coffee,” the restaurant chain said in a statement.
The original Ottawa Street location stills exists, but looks nothing like it did in 1964.
A representative from the store who asked not to be named said management and staff are planning a Saturday birthday celebration that will feature cake and giveaways.