Fact Check

Did 'Big Smoke Burger' Give a 50% Discount for Customers With COVID-19 Vaccination?

A widely-shared photograph suggested one of the Canadian company's restaurants was offering a discount to vaccinated diners in March 2021.

Published Mar 17, 2021

 (Raysonho/Wikimedia Commons)
Image Via Raysonho/Wikimedia Commons
Claim:
In March 2021, a Big Smoke Burger restaurant offered a 50% discount for customers who had received a COVID-19 vaccination.
What's True

In March 2021, the Big Smoke Burger restaurant in Dubai promoted, on social media, a month-long 50% discount for customers who could prove they had received two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine.

What's False

Contrary to the claims of some social media users, the promotion was not run in the restaurant chain's Canadian locations.

In March 2021, readers asked Snopes to examine the authenticity and origins of a photograph shared on social media that appeared to show a chain of burger restaurants was offering a 50% discount to customers who could demonstrate they had received a COVID-19 vaccination

The photograph contained a menu-style sign on a table featuring the following text, along with a logo for the Big Smoke Burger chain, whose headquarters are in Canada:

Are you vaccinated?

50% off

Avail [of] a discount of 50%

Maximum discount will be applied to any burgers, 1 side, and 1 dessert (if applicable).

If you have received the complete dosage of the COVID-19 vaccine, present your Emirates ID and your vaccination card to avail [of] the offer.
Ts and Cs apply.

Some social media users opposed to COVID-19 vaccines, especially those in North America, railed against the sign. As shown above, one user in Canada wrote, "See how they brainwash you and try to make you think it's a good thing," while another in San Diego posted on the Yelp profile of a Big Smoke Burger in Toronto, saying "It's irresponsible to try to coerce your customers to 'get vaxxxed' for a discount on your grub."

In March, a Big Smoke Burger restaurant in Dubai did run a 50% discount for COVID-19-vaccinated customers, and the sign appears to have been photographed at that location. However, the vaccination promotion did not apply at locations in Canada. As a result, we are issuing a rating of "Mostly True."

Big Smoke Burger was founded in Toronto in 2007, and has its headquarters in nearby Oakville, Ontario. It is mostly operated on a franchise basis, meaning different entrepreneurs operate various branches. It's not clear whether the Dubai restaurant is operated from headquarters, or on a franchise basis. 

In March 2021, the Dubai restaurant began promoting a 50% discount for customers who could prove they had received a COVID-19 vaccination. According to posts on the Big Smoke Burger UAE (United Arab Emirates) Facebook and Instagram accounts, the offer was set to expire at the end of March, and required customers to have received two doses of the vaccine:

It's not clear what the original source of the photograph of the sign was, or where it was taken. Snopes contacted a company whose email address was listed on the Big Smoke Burger UAE Facebook page, but we did not receive a response in time for publication. If we receive relevant information on the origins of the photograph itself, we will update this fact check accordingly.

However, the underlying 50% COVID-19 vaccination discount was real, though it applied to the Dubai Big Smoke Burger location, and not those in Canada. The main Big Smoke Burger Facebook account addressed inquiries it had received from customers, writing:

Thank you to those guests who brought to our attention, a Middle East campaign that many businesses have been promoting, including a Dubai Big Smoke, which offers discounts to vaccinated guests.Please be assured that this is NOT an offer that we have EVER run here at Big Smoke Burger in Canada and we would NEVER support here. We appreciate those who brought this forward.

Dan Mac Guill is a former writer for Snopes.

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