hogtown smoke

BBQ restaurant that closed all Toronto locations owes thousands in unpaid wages

Yet another BBQ joint from Toronto has now become embroiled in controversy, and though it didn't illegally open and serve as a site for anti-lockdown rallies (à la Adamson BBQ,) this restaurant's business practices are definitely coming under fire.

Hogtown Smoke, which opened up its first brick-and-mortar location in the Beaches in 2013 after running as a successful food truck operation, has had its fair share of issues lately between getting locked out of multiple locations by their respective landlords and eventually shuttering their final Toronto storefront just a few months ago.

Management told blogTO at the time that it was making plans to grow outside the city "in places more friendly to small business" — its last existing outpost is still running in Stoney Creek, Ontario — but new allegations against the brand of unpaid wages and defaulting on vendor payments may make that expansion difficult.

Provincial data publicized by the CBC this week indicates that Hogtown owes tens of thousands of dollars to former staffers in wages, tips, vacation and termination pay, something that has drawn the attention of the Ministry of Labour.

According to records, the provincial arm has in recent years ordered the brand to pay out some $20,000 for claims, which it eventually did, but new claims have upped that total to $35,644.39, which now sits in collections.

Hogtown has blamed their financial woes on long stints of forced closure during lockdown, with their treasurer telling the CBC that these incidents should and will be dealt with by "insolvency professionals."

Two suppliers have also come forward to say that the chain has outstanding balances in the thousands for multiple past orders, something that Hogtown again pinned on the pandemic despite the fact that some date back to 2016.

Those that have come out with their stories are obviously peeved, with some telling the national news outlet that it was "always a nightmare trying to get paid from them" — not exactly optimal for hiring or establishing business relationships moving forward.

People who have read of the allegations are already boycotting the brand on social media.

A representative for the BBQ spot did not respond to a request for comment in time for publication.

Lead photo by

Hector Vasquez

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