WHY RI­HANNA AND DRAKE’S NEW VIDEO IS BRING­ING AT­TEN­TION TO A TORONTO RESTAU­RANT,

RI­HANNA VIDEO FEA­TUR­ING DRAKE PUTS SPOT­LIGHT ON TORONTO’S REAL JERK RESTAU­RANT

National Post (Latest Edition) - - SPORTS - Vic­to­ria Ahearn

A Toronto restau­rant is get­ting i nter­na­tional at­ten­tion af­ter be­ing promi­nently fea­tured in one of Ri­hanna’s two new mu­sic videos for Work with Drake — a film shoot the co- owner ad­mits he was ini­tially re­luc­tant to agree to.

Ed­ward Pot­tinger, who co-owns the Caribbean eatery the Real Jerk with wife Lilly, says the video’s cre­ators called him about two weeks ago on a Mon­day ask­ing if they could shoot there for about 24 hours on the Fri­day of that same week. Fri­day is one of the busiest days for the Real Jerk and Pot­tinger, who was in his na­tive Ja­maica at the time, wanted to make sure his cus­tomers came first.

“They had to con­vince me to do it, be­cause I don’t re­ally give up a reg­u­lar restau­rant night to shoot movies or video clips,” says Pot­tinger. “I value my cus­tomers, who come from all over. They come from far away, so when they come and see a closed restau­rant, it’s not re­ally nice for them.”

But the Work team as­sured him they would fea­ture the restau­rant’s trade­mark sign, with its back­splash of pan- African colours and a smil­ing sun.

“I re­al­ized how pow­er­ful it would be to have the name as­so­ci­ated with us,” says Pot­tinger. “Re­al­iz­ing it was the No. 1 male and fe­male rap­per/pop stars in the world, it was, ‘OK, let’s do this thing.’ ”

The video, which came out Mon­day along with a much racier al­ter­na­tive ver­sion, sur­passed Pot­tinger’s ex­pec­ta­tions. The Real Jerk sign is fea­tured in the very first frame of the video as Ri­hanna, clad in a pink fur coat, gets out of a slick car along with Drake. The song’s pul­sat­ing beats slowly kick in as they strut into the Real Jerk, where Ri­hanna and Drake join a smoky dance-hall party. The video fea­tures shots of food from the restau­rant and Lilly makes an ap­pear­ance flip­ping jerk chicken and danc­ing in the kitchen.

“I was re­ally blown away by it,” says Pot­tinger, who thought the Real Jerk sign would just be seen for a brief mo­ment at the end of the video. “Drake al­ways builds up Toronto and sup­ports Toronto and this is a fine ex­am­ple.”

Pot­tinger says Toronto- bred Drake and the video’s home­grown cre­ator, Di­rec­tor X (who also pro- duced Drake’s Hot­line Bling), had eaten at the restau­rant be­fore. Iron­i­cally, while the Real Jerk’s food is seen in the video, it didn’t ac­tu­ally cater the video shoot — much to the dis­ap­point­ment of Drake. “When he came he was ac­tu­ally a lit­tle dis­ap­pointed that we didn’t have food for him,” says Pot­tinger. “But we did ac­com­mo­date and we made some roti.”

Fans gath­ered out­side, post­ing pho­tos and video to so­cial me­dia, as the shoot went all night and into the wee hours of the morn­ing. “They work re­ally hard,” says Pot­tinger. “All the dancers, all the pro­duc­tion crew, Drake, Ri­hanna, they were there for 24 hours, from be­gin­ning un­til end.”

The Real Jerk, which first opened over 30 years ago, is known for its jerk dishes and ro­tis, and stocks 60 to 70 va­ri­eties of rum. Pot­tinger says they’ve re­ceived many emails, phone calls and in­ter­view re­quests since the video came out. They’ve had movies and doc­u­men­taries shot in the restau­rant be­fore, “but noth­ing of this mag­ni­tude,” he says.

“We don’t just sell food, we sell cul­ture, and I’m very happy to share our cul­ture of the Caribbean.”

ERNEST DOROSZUK / TORONTO SUN

Win­dows are ob­scured at the Real Jerk restau­rant in Toronto dur­ing a video shoot with Drake and Ri­hanna

on Feb. 5. Fans gath­ered out­side as the shoot went all night and into the wee hours of the morn­ing.

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