Toronto's newest BBQ joint is in the back entrance of one of the city's oldest bars
To find one of Toronto's newest BBQ restaurants, you'll actually want to seek out the back entrance of one of our city's oldest bars.
Irish pub The Old Sod has been around since 1975, but since the whirlwind that was 2020 they've changed things up in ways they never could have expected.
They've innovated by trying to divert business from the LCBO to themselves, creating a distanced two-person outdoor "buddy bar" and by selling Christmas trees.
Now, they're doing a whole new menu concept as Bellows Barbecue.
"We needed to quickly think of our next creative pivot in order to stay alive, as we've had to do for a full year now. With no customers allowed inside and low takeout alcohol sales, we realized we had to increase food revenue and to do so we'd have to take a big risk to differentiate our takeout food menu from local competitors," Old Sod co-owners Tyler Owens and Kyla Prior told blogTO.
"We needed a menu that was not being offered in our area, that would sustain us through the remainder of the lockdown but would also work well with our live music vibe in The Old Sod when our amazing customers are allowed back. As Country music fans/travellers down south we think nothing goes better with live music and beer than smoked barbecue."
Serving up pulled pork, brisket, wings, ribs, fried chicken and sides like poutine, mac n' cheese and deep-fried pickles, Bellows is actually named for The Old Sod co-owners' dog.
"He has been The Old Sod's mascot since he was only weeks old. He has a lot of character and is a very tough little guy, recently beating three cancer surgeries," say Owens and Prior.
"We love him more than anything and he inspires us everyday to never give up, so it made perfect sense to make him the face of this risky but necessary new partner brand of The Old Sod."
A menu is available online, and you can call in to order delivery or to pick up from The Old Sod's back entrance.
"We are taking orders and deliveries our self because the third party platforms (Skip The Dishes, Uber Eats) take too much of our profit and charge the customer too much," say Owens and Prior.
"We think the best way to truly support local is to go old school and just call in your order and we deliver your order ourselves quickly to maintain food temperature/quality and avoid the many issues that can occur with third party delivery."
You don't want to mess around with food quality when ordering, say, their $19 "Big Dog Sangy," a sandwich piled with fried chicken, pulled pork and brisket. For $85, you can get their popular "Big Dog Platter": any two pounds of meat with four sides and four orders of cornbread.
"We opened on Super Bowl weekend and the response was great right away, we received a large number of orders for our Big Dog Platter, which feeds the whole family! Etobicoke residents, especially those here in The Kingsway area mentioned they were very happy to have the option of barbecue now in their area," say Owens and Prior.
"As always, we appreciate the amazing support we receive from our community, we are excited for everyone to try the takeout food while in lockdown, but even more excited to have everyone in for the full experience of live music, drinks, good times and great barbecue…one day hopefully sooner than later, we will cheers again."
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