Monday, December 21, 2009

The Decline of Tim Hortons

Last weekend, Pastor Jack and I went to the local Tim Hortons in Embrun. They had just finished renovations. There was a whole new look and feel. For the most part it was good. But one thing was different that I didn't like: The sandwich bar was at the back, facing the back wall. It used to be off to the side, facing the customers. Now, the poor sandwich lady had to shout to one end of the store asking Jack about his bagel, then the other end to shout something to me about my sandwich.

I have watched Tim Hortons go from a really nice place to go for a snack and hang-out to a place I don't want to go to at all. It's time I blogged about it.

When I was in high school I used to go to Timmies all the time with friends. I'd get a hot chocolate and two oatmeal-raisin cookies. The hot chocolate was smooth and delicious. The cookies were big and soft. Over time the cookies got smaller and harder. They were no longer appetizing.

This was long before their switch to "Always Fresh" where they stopped baking the products at the local Tim Hortons' and started baking at a central location, freezing the product, and shipping it out to the individual stores.  I know a lot of people were disappointed with this change.  They felt the quality of the donuts, muffins, etc. really went downhill.

Then they got new hot chocolate machines. They used to have a dedicated hot chocolate machine. Then they got machines that would dispense hot chocolate and "cappuccinos". I suspect they got a new hot chocolate formula at this time too. The quality of the drink went down the drain. I switched from hot chocolate to tea.

The nice things about tea is that I can control how long the tea has been steeping in the cup, and it's one price no matter what size you get. I like weak tea. I like the fact I can take the bag out of the cup when I want.

Then they changed that! They introduced steeped tea. I got it once. Once was enough. I couldn't finish the stuff. I had to pour it out. Oh well, I usually got Earl Grey tea anyway.  Their Ear Grey tea isn't steeped.  It only comes in individual bags.

Then I went in one day ready to beat the system by getting a large Earl Grey tea. I could let it steep for as little, or long, as I wanted. Then I was charged extra for the large! A large tea is not any more product than a small. It's one tea bag! The only difference is the size of the cup and the amount of water! This was the last straw.  No more Tim Hortons for me!  Now I only go to Tim Hortons as a last resort. Unfortunately, in Embrun there really isn't much else. If I'm willing to drive to Vars I'll go to the Country Style by the exit. (It turns out Country Style coffee is way better than Tim Hortons coffee.)

Now, they've changed the location of the sandwich bar. Jack likes to get a bagel with butter. They usually put too much butter on his bagel for his taste, so he likes to tell them to go easy on the butter. Now that they're way over behind the cash, with their back to him, it's a lot harder to ask for that. Interaction with your sandwich artist is important. They have taken that away from us.

Another thing, which may be only at the Embrun Timmies, is they no longer have napkins on the tables. That is so annoying! You're comfortably sitting down, you get some schmultz on your hands, and you have to get up, and go over to the busy counter to look for a napkin.

To recap, the ways Tim Hortons has gone downhill over the last several years are as follows:
  1. The Hot Chocolate quality;
  2. The quality of the cookies;
  3. The "Always Fresh"way of providing baked goods;
  4. Steeped Tea;
  5. Greedy tea pricing schemes;
  6. Relocation of the Sandwich Bar; and
  7. No more napkins on the tables.

It hasn't been all bad. In that time, Tim Hortons has introduced cappuccinos, Bagels, Sandwiches, Soups, Chilli, and made all restaurants non-smoking.

All these complaints. Tim Hortons will never listen to me. Now, if only I had a friend who worked for Tim Hortons head office.....


Anonymous said...

Your blog keeps getting better and better! Your older articles are not as good as newer ones you have a lot more creativity and originality now keep it up!

Andrew said...

Well, thank you.

Now, I'm curious as to who you are.

Who are you? Do I know you?

Anonymous said...

their donuts today are not anything compared to before they switched to the pre-made thawed centrally made ones. these ones mostly taste alike and are mostly just greasy mush with minimal flavour and texture from one kind to another.

twenty years ago their donuts were delicious, well made and each kind tasted unique and had the texture and flavour of a fresh pastry. now they are no better than the frosted donuts you get at the corner store. in fact, much worse. bleh.....

Anonymous said...

and to further clarify, at least frosted donuts at the corner store don't look and taste like they have been literally soaked in a vat of grease like the modern tims donuts do.

just break open a walnut crunch and see the oil is soaked about halfway through the donut to the center.

the walnut crunch are also half, yes half the size they once were many years ago. but they contain an astronomical amount of grease now and therefore actually contain more calories. and where did the chocolaty walnuty flavour and texture go? you can hardly taste it over all the fat

oh and you used to get huge chunks of fresh walnut all throughout. not anymore. they basically shrunk them down into a turd sized block of fat.

pathetic is what it is

Andrew said...

Interestingly enough, I was reading "Always Fresh" by Ron Joyce ( He was the head of TDL (Tim Donuts Ltd.) for many years. He wrote that change happened after he left, and wouldn't have happened with him still there.

Furthermore, he said that since they made the change, the quality has improved. ie: the frozen and thawed donuts are better today than they were when they first made the change.

I have it on good authority that having all those bakers in all those different locations was a huge liability compared to it all being in one place.

I'm not arguing with you. I rarely eat donuts, but I've heard lots of people say what you've said, Anonymous, so I included it in this blog post.