tokyo hot fried chicken toronto

This Toronto fried chicken spot just took a mental health day

Simply existing amidst a global pandemic has taken an immense toll on us all, but few moreso than small businesses navigating the precarious, unpredictable conditions of lockdown in Toronto

Those working in restaurants have reported feeling increased anxiety from the wavering conditions of stay-at-home orders. Toiling in kitchens that offer pick-ups also means the added stress of coming into contact with people during the city's disastrous third wave

The people serving up your comfort food need comfort too, says popular Toronto restaurant Tokyo Hot Fried Chicken

That's why the staff was given a paid day off this past Sunday, both for them to unwind, and so the restaurant could raise awareness of mental health among those who have been working in restaurants during the pandemic. 

"People over profit," owner Jordan Harasinski Gillis tells blogTO. "Our mental health is priceless and worth more than we can put a price tag on."

"We have to do whatever we can to support each other through this. In my case, I had the opportunity to give my team a paid day off so that they could use it to refill and rest without worrying about loss of hours."

In an Instagram post made Sunday, Harasinski Gillis wrote about how the Tokyo Hot Fried Chicken team has been working since the beginning of the pandemic without a break. 

"After talking with the team this morning,  we have decided that we will be closed today in order for the entire Tokyo Hot Fried Chicken team to take a mental health day and get some much deserved rest after a long difficult weekend with many challenges," wrote Harasinski Gillis. 

The team was back at it by noon Monday completing orders of fried chicken sandwiches for pick-up and delivery out of Freeplay and Folly Brewing.

Tokyo Hot's decision to publicly take the day off for mental health, which Harasinski Gillis says "needs more sunlight and less stigma," saw a wave of support from customers and fellow businesses who reported their own cases of burnout.

"Everyone's mental health is suffering right now," says Harasinski Gillis. "We have to recognize that and then do what we can to make sure we all make it out of this ok." 

If you want to help out the people who have been making your food for the past year, the Toronto Restaurant Workers Relief Fund is supporting workers with digital gift cards for groceries and paid therapy sessions. You can donate through TRWRF's online form.

Lead photo by

Tokyo Hot Fried Chicken

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