Toronto DJ asks government to do better after putting his life savings into new restaurant

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A Toronto DJ who poured his life savings into his new Queen West restaurant says his business might not be able to make it past lockdown without better support from the government. 

Bar'Kada owner Jordan Rulloda opened his restaurant in November 2020. 

The business owner and longtime DJ, who moonlights as DJ Tilt, replaced the soul food staple Harlem Underground at 745 Queen St. W. with a menu of Filipino eats.

He had hoped to open in spring, but thanks to COVID-19, the launch of Bar'kada was forced to delay.

Now three months into the pandemic, Rulloda has released a video message to his followers on his personal Instagram detailing the struggles of owning a restaurant during COVID-19, especially if it launched in 2020.

"I need your help and support now more than ever," says Rulloda. 

"It's been a dream of mine to open up a place finally in the city. It took literally 10 years of my life for this dream to finally come true. Searching for this perfect place, it was love at first place when I saw it, and we signed the lease and began renovations in late 2019," he says.

"All my life savings I put into this project, all along not knowing what was to come: COVID-19."

Rulloda says that, on top of losing all his DJ gigs since March, Bar'kada is ineligible for the federal and provincial governments' CECRA program, which does not subsidize small businesses that opened on or after March 1, 2020.

The business is now expected to pay all their pricey Queen West rent on takeout and delivery alone, with no wage subsidies or loans.

A few days into Ontario's latest stay-at-home order, businesses are being forced to roll with yet another punch, one which has sent a wave of Toronto restaurants into temporary closure once more.