uncle rays toronto

Restaurant in Toronto is getting tons of backlash and it hasn't even opened yet

A Hamilton restaurant that is slated to open a Toronto outpost this week is under fire for what many are seeing as racist branding.

Uncle Ray's Food and Liquor, set to open near Church and Front Streets on January 17, issued a press release that has now gone viral on social media for its problematic phrasing and imagery.

The eatery, which aims to focus on classic Southern food like collard greens and chicken and waffles, uses a number of terms that many Toronto residents find concerning and outright offensive, including a depiction of a gorilla on the front of its menu.

The release's seemingly measured use of terms like "urban," "side hustle," "soul," and others provide additional layers of cringe to an already very tone-deaf, WTF situation.

The Uncle Ray's team has not yet issued a formal statement or apology, but says that the lapse in judgement was completely accidental.

"We are certainly aware of the commentary taking place online," Adam Teolis, one of the restaurant's four proprieters — none of whom are people of colour — says in an email.

"This was clearly an oversight on our side and was most definitely not intentional in any way."

Given that the establishment's additional visuals include other animals in the same design and colour scheme, this explanation seems sincere, though not above reproach.

Many are pointing out that the ordeal is a prime example of the troublesome trend of oblivious "bro marketing" (as Vice writer Manisha Krishnan aptly calls it) in Toronto's food scene and beyond.

Lead photo by

@TripleAToronto


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