From the outside, Lumberjack’s Bar & Grill is just a new watering hole in Victoria.
Online though, the newly opened restaurant is taking heat.
Some people have been writing on their public Facebook page “don’t eat here,” while others are encouraging people to leave bad reviews.
The comments are in response to the apparent connection the new owners have to Chuck’s Burger Bar, the now-closed restaurant on Yates Street that was connected to numerous allegations of sexualized violence by one of its former employees.
“I had slipped in the shower, and I fell to the ground, I hit my head on the counter and the guy had forced himself on me while I was on the ground,” a 22-year-old survivor of the sexual violence told CHEK News anonymously in February.
The owners of Lumberjacks are Abhishek (Sam) Sharma and Jasleen Kaur, a couple who say they came to Canada in 2015 to build a new life.
Now they say they’re facing online racialized hate, with a recent email saying “You guys suck, go back to your country.”
They’re too afraid to show their faces on tv, but explained their connection to Chuck’s to CHEK News regardless, saying in the fall of 2020 they came on as partial investors when the restaurant wasn’t doing well financially.
But with a good location close to Wharf Street, the couple took a chance and bought partial shares.
“It was a new thing for me, the bar industry, so I was still in the training,” said Sharma.
Sharma says in the three months between the fall when they bought shares and January when the sexual assault allegations first surfaced, he was being trained as the operational manager.
Although Sharma admits to working with the person accused of sexual assault, he says he never saw any bad behaviour.
“I have only closed two or four times, to be honest. I left before he completed the restaurant shutting down,” said Sharma.
And when the allegations arose, the couple says it came as a huge surprise and were upset.
“We were so shocked because we had no idea. We were completely in shock,” said Kaur.
“We had to make a decision, so we gave them an option: you buy us out, or we buy you out,” said Sharma. “There is no way we are going forward as anything Chuck’s.”
The couple decided to protect their investment and bought the restaurant, and say they’re resolute to not let something like this happen again.
“We’re going to make sure this never happens on our watch, in our restaurant,” said Sharma.
Lumberjack’s owners promise to implement annual mandatory sexual harassment and assault training from those certified, and a zero-tolerance policy.
“In terms of our main priority, it’s everything to feel safe when they come into Lumberjacks,” said Sharma.
And if anyone has questions about their connection to Chuck’s, they say their door is open.