dizzy toronto

Toronto restaurant owner offering free meals to anyone recently laid off

A Toronto restaurant owner is now offering free meals, no questions asked, after having a change of heart upon seeing the responses to a rant he wrote online, which has since been taken down.

The restaurant industry has been hit especially hard during the pandemic and owners have been vocal about their frustrations with restrictions, including Chris Murie of The Dizzy.

The Roncesvalles pub is known for their sports bar atmosphere, approachable food that's been available for takeout including some of the city's best wings, and little front covered patio which they've been keeping heated up until now. 

"My original rant was about lockdowns and their effectiveness. We have speakeasies opening up in every neighborhood in this city. We all heard about the girl who had the party in the storage locker with 100 people in attendance. Truth is, prohibition never works and people always find a way around the system," says Murie.

"If we had at least some options for licensed, responsible establishments as an option for people to go to, it would be safer than what's happening now with all the unmonitored house parties and no social distancing or contract tracing."

His original post, which was sent to blogTO via email, began: "Well, our leaders have decided to double down on what seems like a failed policy. The prohibition of licensed, responsible eateries and bars who are following the rules will not end well. I have to ask about the efficacy of such measures as we see people all over the city breaking these rules.

"We all know that some people are simply not going to follow the rules. Furthermore, there will always be somebody willing to cash in on prohibition with an illegal enterprise. I suspect the numbers of COVID cases will only get worse."

Murie changed his perspective "after reading reading some of the comments from hospitality workers," saying "that all took a back seat" and that he knows "how dedicated and passionate they are about what they do and I felt selfish. I at least still have the Dizzy and if I apply myself and make the right pivots, I will survive."

In light of this attitude adjustment, Murie is now offering meals from The Dizzy's regular menu for free to anyone who's recently been laid off, no questions asked.

Posting the news to Facebook, he wrote: "For now, I still have my business and I still have a way to make a living. I realize that many of you are going through some really terrible times. Truth is, I'm not sure if we will survive this next lockdown but, I remain optimistic. I wish I could offer all of you a job or a lifeline but, sadly I cannot.". 

"What I can do is offer you a hot meal and a positive experience. To anyone who has been recently laid off, please consider my offer. Just call us at the Dizzy, tell us where you work and give us your dietary restrictions or food allergies. Then, swing by and pick up a hot meal with no questions asked."

He's had a few takers already, and unfortunately only imagines he'll get more as the lockdown persists.

"If things get too busy, I may have to do batches of food for these folks," says Murie. "I can't imagine having my ability to provide for my family taken away from me. Must be just devastating."

Murie is already planning to potentially hire someone recently unemployed who came in for a free meal as a delivery driver, and community members have been coming in just to support. One offered a $50 gift certificate to the cause, and others have offered to pay it forward by paying for a meal anyone coming in could claim.

Henderson is even looking at offering them free beer to go with the meals. Because after all, it's just not the complete pub experience without a cold one on the side, and we could all use one right now.

Lead photo by

Amy Carlberg

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