New “Southern-inspired” restaurant accused of racism after using ape image to promote menu

Uncle Ray's is backed by a well-known team of industry veterans

A soon-to-open Toronto restaurant is coming under fire for the imagery reportedly being used in recent publicity materials.

Uncle Ray’s Food & Liquor, a restaurant with a “Southern-inspired” menu, is helmed by restaurateur Yannick Bigourdan (Splendido, Nota Bene and the Carbon Bar) and chef Michael Angeloni (Grand Electric), along with industry veterans Adam Teolis and Dan Kennedy.

The restaurant’s Toronto location is set to open on Jan. 17, on the heels of a Hamilton outpost which opened in December.

Food writer and CBC contributor Suresh Doss shared a press release from the new restaurant on Twitter yesterday, expressing concern over its use of ape imagery to promote its Southern food menu.


Dozens of commenters took to Twitter to consider the racial implications of the press release including well-known hip hop artist Cadence Weapon as well as local city councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam in whose ward the restaurant is located.




“Off the charts openly racist. Disgusting,” responded Shree Paradkar, columnist at the Toronto Star.

According to one commenter, Uncle Ray’s also shared a similar image featuring an ape on their Instagram, but it has since been taken down. But there was a screen capture that showed the post.


The restaurant did not respond to our request for comment.

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