biggs ribs toronto

Man laid off during lockdowns starts pop-up that sells out in Toronto every time

One of the hottest pop-ups originating just outside Toronto was started up by someone who was laid off during lockdowns.

Biggs Ribs has been selling out every single time they pop up, whether it's in their hometown of Brampton or at events here in Toronto. Elias Williams started it up in April 2021 after a revelatory food moment. 

"I had some really good beef ribs... I don't eat pork because of my religion, I am Seventh-Day Adventist, but they were all the way in Etobicoke, and I live in Brampton," Williams tells blogTO.

"After many Google searches, I found it extremely difficult to find any good beef ribs options nearby. That's when I decided to fill the hole in the market."

Williams has a business background with a BBA and a certificate in marketing management.

"Some would consider me a serial entrepreneur," says Williams. "I love marketing. So this business has let me pursue some of my marketing dreams."

Williams was working on and off as a retail manager at Calvin Klein from September 2019 to May 2021 due to fluctuations in lockdown restrictions.

"I finally walked away from this position in May 2021," says Williams. "I was laid off for the third or fourth time."

He's been able to make a go of it with help from his friends and family, including his girlfriend and mother, who've helped with things like logos, creating digital content, events operations and prep. In the meantime, he's also found a new job with the City of Toronto and has been juggling that along with Biggs.

Biggs serves a simple menu of ribs sold by the rack, in platters and in combos, starting at $15 for a single huge sloppy rib served with fries. You can also get mac n' cheese ($10) for a side.

"I love to BBQ. So when I was able to perfect my recipe it was a no-brainer that I would try to sell them. I had no idea that it would go this far. It's very easy to find pork ribs but it's sometimes a hassle to find good beef ribs. Especially halal beef ribs," says Williams.

"All our beef is 100 per cent halal. There are a lot of people who don't eat pork whether it be for personal or religious reasons, so I'm happy that they are able to enjoy my ribs guilt-free."

And enjoy it they have. Every week Williams sells food for pickup from Thursday through Sunday.  The orders are booked up by Wednesday, and his pop-ups usually sell out within five or six hours.

"I did a pop-up at Man of Kent downtown this Labour Day Monday and it sold out in 90 minutes," says Williams.

He learned how to cook at home from his mother, and always found himself on grill duty at events. Of the many things he cooked, the ribs were a real hit. 

"At the beginning of 2021, I set a goal to learn how to cook a new dish every month. Once I started the ribs I never turned back," says Williams. "Now it's a passion and hobby that's turned into a form of income."

You can order from Biggs Ribs online for pickup in Brampton, and watch their social media to find out when they're popping up in Toronto, but this is only the beginning.

"I recently released a cooking show where we use ribs to make quick snacks. It's called Rest of the Rack," says Williams. "I'd love for it to become bigger than ribs. My goal would be to grow the show into an avenue to put new food businesses on the map and get small businesses the exposure that they need."

He's also looking to get a food truck or trailer, with a long-term goal to open a permanent physical storefront.

Lead photo by

Biggs Ribs

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