Community Stories: Bar’kada Restaurant

Posted on Friday, January 29th, 2021

Written by The John F. Wood Centre For Business and Student Enterprise

Bar’kada is a restaurant and bar founded in Downtown Toronto in 2020 by Jordan Rulloda. They focus on Tapas' style dishes to share with your "barkada" (group of friends). They offer Filipino food with inspiration from cultural diversity in Toronto. They put forward delicious comfort food with dishes such as tapas, sandwiches, salads, and wine. 

What inspired you to start your business?

Being in the hospitality industry as an entertainer, I always wanted to own a venue down the road as I love the industry and thought I would not be doing it when I got older and had a family. So after opening my first restaurant 10 years ago, I knew one day the dream would be to open one up in the big city, downtown Toronto.

What problem were you trying to solve?

We signed the lease of this new spot in November of 2019 with plans to open up April of 2020 but due to Covid had to stop our plans and re-evaluate opening to discuss our options with what was happening in the world and rent with our landlord. We decided to open up and continue with the plan and by the end of October sat our first guests (friends) and then to the public in November getting the last week of patio/dine-in service to only be shut down again due to the lockdown.

The main problem is being a new business in 2020, we don't get the same relief/subsidies as all other businesses, so no Rent Relief, no Wage Subsidy, no CEBA Business Loan. Meanwhile, still having to pay full rent, utilities and other fixed expenses that comes with having a commercial space.

What helps you to keep generating you new ideas to grow or change your business?

Not giving up. If I let the dream die, then the business dies so we are constantly pivoting and thinking of new ways to generate revenue, maximize profit if any to keep afloat so when indoor dining resumes, we can go to what we originally envisioned.

What’s a piece of advice you have for aspiring entrepreneurs?

Not to be "cliche" but "Just Do It". You got to go all-in and invest not only money, but time into your business and work harder than anyone else because at the end of the day, it's you on the line.  No one else cares if you succeed or fail. Most people are scared to do what most aren't doing, which is why safe play is to just get a 9-5 job with a salary, etc. But I never want to live the "what if" game when I look back at my career. 

Also, never give up. There will be many times, where you may think that's it, but you just gotta keep fighting, keep dreaming and keep your head up to always look at the positive to keep you going.

To order food from Bar’kada Restaurant check out their website for more information

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