Zak's Diner - John

Zak's Diner - John

Zak's Diner

Owner: John Borsten
14 Byward Market Square, Ottawa, ON K1N 7A1

How long have has Zak’s been in Ottawa?

We opened in 1986.


As a classic diner Zak’s hits every detail, what was the inspiration?

In 1986 there was a diner revival and we tapped into that. We tried to not be too over the top with decor.

Your favourite item on the menu.

Cheeseburger with a side of poutine and a Vanilla milkshake!

If you could serve one Canadian Celebrity, who would it be and what would you serve them?

Leonard Cohen if he was alive....Eggs Benny Pacific (w smoked salmon)


What does Ottawa bring to your business?

Customers, lots of them, specifically the Byward Market is a fantastic location.

Is there a dish that is unique or special to Zak’s?

Nobody make the milkshakes the way we do anymore. Just ice cream, Milk and a natural flavour if you want one. They take time and they are noisy.

Since Zak’s runs 24/7 you probably keep pretty busy. What do you do when you get a day off?

After 32 years I have learned to relax and turn the place over to competent younger people to run day to day. I take a fair amount of time off to hang out with my family. I still have school age kids...a 17 year old and a 2 years old.

What is your favourite musician?

The Beatles!


I can imagine that Ottawa events bring tourists, which bring in business. Do you ever attend any of the local events and if so which is your favourite?

Many of them. Winterlude is the best when the weather co-operates. I try to skate the canal every Winter.

What keeps you up at night?

Federal and provincial governments.

Ottawa’s restaurant scene has seen some drastic changes over the past decade, what would you like to see next?

Less attitude and bigger portions. This hipster trend will end soon and Zak's will still be there.

Will there be any more Zak’s locations in the future? Any new exciting projects you are working on at the moment? 

I have a lot of younger, hard working ,smart  people working with me. I would love to partner with them and open more stores, as i have done in Kanata.

Last year we opened Zak's Cantina next door to Zak's in the Market. Currently we are joining the 2 stores together by tearing a common wall down and sharing a kitchen. This should bring some efficiencies. Zak's has outgrown that space so I'm really looking forward to getting that done. As well the Diner side will be getting a facelift.


N.U.T.S - Hi

N.U.T.S - Hi

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