A new restaurant set to open in Toronto on January 17 has experienced trouble even before its unveiling. Uncle Ray's Toronto is facing backlash after releasing controversial promotional material that some onlookers have deemed as "racist." The owners of the restaurant are calling the release, sent out on Jan. 13, a case of an "oversight." 

The restaurant already has a well-known location in Hamilton, and its Toronto spot at Church Street and The Esplanade is scheduled to open January 17.

However, the company, which boasts a "delicious take on Southern food including fried chicken and waffles," found itself in some trouble this week.

The controversy was caused by a press release issued Monday, January 13 that included an illustration of an ape with the words "Who The Hell Is Uncle Ray" over it. 

Some people immediately drew a connection between the image of an ape and an advertisement for fried chicken.

The Toronto Star received a written statement from Adam Toelis, a member of the restaurant's team, on Tuesday, January 14.

Toelis noted there was "most certainly" an "oversight" by their team, but they didn't intentionally mean to offend anyone. 

“While we are aware of the conversations happening online, we really don’t have much more to add,” he wrote. 

Suresh Doss, a food writer for CBC Toronto, reposted the press release on Twitter, with the simple caption "Speechless."

Toronto City Councillor for Toronto Centre, Kristyn Wong-Tam, in whose ward the new restaurant is located, spoke out as well, calling the illustration "utterly awful." 

They weren't the only ones stunned by the imagery.

Well-known Toronto rapper Cadence Weapon also called out the advertisement, ripping it for what she saw as an appropriation of black culture. 

Narcity Canada has reached out to the owners of Uncle Ray's for comment regarding the situation but has yet to receive a response.

According to a Twitter user, an Instagram post by the company also included the image but it has since been deleted.

However, the intentions and suitability of the advertising remain a topic of debate.

Some people took to social media to say while they didn't condone the imagery using in the press release, they don't think the intentions were to discriminate.

Others, though, were not satisfied with the company's response, stating they would not be supporting them moving forward.

While there certainly controversy over the issue, it appears the company is nonetheless moving forward with its plans to open on Friday.

There's been no word of any protests, but it seems there may be some potential customers who won't be testing out Uncle Ray's anytime soon.

Comments are now closed.
Account Settings
Share Feedback
Log Out

Register this device to receive push notifications