The smoker at Earlscourt BBQ will be back up and running next month after a temporary closure that stretched on for over a year. The Corso Italia restaurant initially shuttered its doors in the wake of a fire in December 2019. In the ensuing months, owner Jason Rees says the restaurant encountered difficulties securing its insurance policy payout to cover the necessary repairs. Their challenges were further compounded when the pandemic hit a few months later.
“In the last eight weeks, we’ve managed to get a little bit of financing and apply for some grants,” says Rees, adding that the restaurant’s landlord has also been accommodating in working out a plan with them. “We have just enough money to get the kitchen finished and to reopen now,” he says.
First opened in 2017, Earlscourt BBQ specializes in Southern-style barbecue made with seasonal ingredients sourced from local farmers. The restaurant quickly became a popular Corso Italia community hub, also known for its local craft beer and wine program.
Rees says the restaurant’s reopening will see the return of many menu favourites.
“All the classics will still be there,” he says. “You’ll still be able to buy our locally sourced sustainable meats and our classic sides like mac and cheese will never go away.” He adds, however, that he’s adapting the menu to fit a more takeout-friendly format. “I’ve got some new, fun things coming that are going to be designed to last well for takeout and reheating,” he hints.
If the dine-in closure persists, Rees sees Earlscourt BBQ following in the footsteps of many other local restaurants and pivoting to a market and bottle shop concept.
“I’m kind of blessed that I’ve been able to talk with other restaurant owners to see what’s worked for them in the last year,” he says. He’s also hopeful that outdoor dining will be permitted in the spring, which would allow the restaurant to serve diners on its 40-seat patio.
Earlscourt BBQ is set to reopen in March. Keep an eye on their Instagram page for further updates.