In Loving Memory of Ryan Smolkin, a remarkable individual whose warmth, laughter and kindness left an incredible mark on all our hearts. It’s totally impossible not to have a great Ryan story! It’s important for his family and everyone at Smoke’s Poutinerie to keep these stories with us. Please take a moment to share your favourite memories, stories or leave a message to honor Ryan’s legacy, and if you have any photos capturing moments with him, we encourage you to upload them here to celebrate his life together.

I didn’t know Ryan. I had no idea that the founder/creator of this delicious business was so young.
He has made many a drunken college/uni student very happy after a night of partying.

I always looked forward to grabbing a poutine for my streetcar ride home after a night out with friends.

My condolences to his family and close friends.
May he rest in peace and have all the extra gravy and toppings his heart desires in the afterlife.

*the amount of friendships and hilarious conversations created from standing in a line at 2am for ~30 mins is such a blessing Ryan (probably not intended) created. He built long and short term communities by creating this franchise. Well done, Sir!

Ryan and I go back over 10 years. I admired Ryan’s entrepreneur spirit. Next year on my 5th year anniversary in real estate I’ll honour Ryan with a charity in his memory.

Smoke’s on a Friday and Saturday night in Barrie after a night out was always a great spot for an amazing meal professionally made and always perfect. Thanks for every meal I’ve had.

There’s only one Ryan Smolkin in this world, and there will never be another like him. We had an absolute blast emceeing the CFA’s 2017 convention gala. During our planning and filming, I really got to know Ryan. You might even say that a little of bit of Ryan rubbed off on me. He had a wonderful way of bringing out the joy (and mischief) in everyone around him.

Thank you for being a part of my food journey since 2016. You guys are awesome!

I am also profoundly sorry for your loss. I wish the family well in this trying time.

Back in January of this year, I had the privilege to attend the “Back in Black” Owner’s Conference in Punta Cana. I now really cherish that time spent getting to know Ryan and the Smoke’s Poutinerie family. During those 4 days I was amazed with Ryan’s passion, dedication and genuine love for his team and the community he’s built and cultivated. I was impressed with how he consistently lived and breathed the brand and everyone around him from the leadership, franchises, and suppliers all caught his vision and embraced the Smoke’s way.

One of the evenings we had a battle of the bands friendly competition, and I must say Ryan and the Smoke’s Poutinerie family inspired me to participate in lip-synching to Guns N Roses Sweet Child of Mine. This is something I never imagined I would do, but being around the energy and vision, I couldn’t help but dive right in there.

Ryan was a true ROCK STAR, a vibrant, dynamic person that has left a legacy that has touched all who knew him. We will miss you Ryan. Blessings Winnie Tang (Givex)

Over the years, myself and the 7shifts team had the pleasure of working alongside Ryan, Mark Cunningham, and the Smoke’s team to help streamline their scheduling and operations.

Exchanging any type of communication with Ryan was always a highlight. I remember my first encounter with Ryan. A sales rep gave me the phone and said “It’s the CEO of Smoke’s. He wants to talk to you.” I picked up the phone only to hear someone on the other end screaming “FIRE IT UP JORDAN! WE’RE GOING WITH 7SHIFTS!” I thought it was a prank call. He always brought the highest levels of energy to every conversation – no matter what.

On their cross Canada poutine tour last year, he stopped by the 7shifts office in #yxe to give everyone some Smoke’s swag. Him shouting “SMOKE’S POUTINERIE IN THE HOUSE” to a quiet room of people caught many off guard, but was later followed by immense laughter and energy. People loved it.

Not only that, but he did so much for the community. He spearheaded the annual Poutine Eating Championship and would insist that all partners of Smoke’s participate to raise money for a great cause, We Care, which sends kids with disabilities to camp (

You had a big smile and an even bigger heart.

RIP, Ryan. You will be missed.

– Jordan Boesch, CEO @ 7shifts

It’s hard to express the sadness to see one of the brightest founders and most explosive entertainer in the world renowned poutine business disappear.

The two times we met I walked out of his office laughing and truly enjoyed his spirit! Too bad we didn’t get to hangout one last time!

This is a photo of the infamous trophy for the World Poutine Eating Championship held every year. I’ve been to 3 of them. Just an amazing event created by Ryan in support of We Care for sending Kids to summer camps.
Kirk Allen – Reshift Media

Years ago Ryan and I were coming home from Ottawa when he tells me that he is going to introduce me to the best egg rolls I will ever eat. I said , “Ryan, I have no problem with you buying egg rolls but as far as them being the best I ever had, I’ve had a lot of egg rolls…”
We arrive at Golden Palace and he runs in and returns with a huge smile and a huge bag of egg rolls. They were different, larger and open ended… I tried one and he was right, the best I ever had! Ryan and I kept shoving them into our mouths, all of the sudden Ryan gasps, “how many are left?”
Shit I promised the boys I’d bring some home… Ryan and I ate 18 of them in minutes before getting on the 417… the boys got six… sorry boys.
GP egg rolls became an ongoing theme, and whenever we could we grabbed a few dozen. Shortly after Ryan’s service I went to GP… Here’s to you my friend.

Don’t mean nothin but a good time. Ryan at his best. Canadian Franchise Association.

Hypnotizing Ryan at Lice convention

An award winning Franchise

Franchise Awareness Day Parliament Hill

He was a superhero

Ryan was always eager to help a fellow franchisor or anyone for that matter. His personality was electric and he shone like a star in every room he entered. I will miss him so much and never realized the impact he had on me as a person. One of my favorite memories is when his dad came to the convention in Ottawa and how proud he was to have him there. They were both so proud of each other. We went to the after party and then walked around town ending up at a McDonalds at 3am. Another fond memory was when he came to be my key note speaker at Lice Squad’s annual convention. We hired a professional hypnotist and had him and some of the franchisees hypnotized. I have never laughed so hard in my life. He was also in tears having to take off his signature shades just to wipe the tears of laughter from his face. Finally participating in the CEO Poutine Eating Challenge and watching him oversee and cheer on all the eaters was a favorite memory. Every time I see plaid I will think of Ryan in his overall PJ’s rocking on and keeping the good vibes going. God Speed my friend.

There are some people who bring a light so great to the world that even after they have gone, the light remains. Ryan Smolkin was one of those rare souls whose energy (!) and smile could turn even the simplest moments into unforgettable memories.

Remembering our trip to Mexico brings both a smile and a tear. Smoke’s had held a contest and 8 lucky people joined Ryan and me for a week at the Hard Rock Hotel in Cozumel. Ryan orchestrated everything from plaid floaties in the pool and ocean to air guitar contests that had us all strumming to the rhythm of hilarity, (and cervezas).

Our group dinners were never just meals; they were feasts of fun, with shenanigans, storytelling, and singing. The fans seemed even more thrilled to share in Ryan’s company than they were to be in the Mexican sun. He had this remarkable way of making everyone feel like the most important person in the world.

Ryan’s passion for life was a tidal wave that swept us all up. He left no stone unturned to ensure everyone around him had the time of their lives. And in doing so, he etched himself into our hearts forever.

As we mourn the loss of a beloved friend, let’s carry forward the torch of his electric spirit. Let’s live fully, take chances, and sprinkle a bit of Ryan’s brand of magic into the world every chance we get.

This one hit hard. I didn’t realize how much Ryan had an impact on my life until I heard the news. Ryan was a truly incredible human being. His passion for his business was obvious but what a lot of people may not have seen was his equal passion for giving back. I had the privilege of knowing Ryan during my time as Executive Director of We Care. His work on the Board and in the establishment and growth of the CEO Eating Challenge has raised over $500,000 to send kids with disabilities to accessible summer camps. His ability to gather a team of passionate colleagues to ride the gravy train was just as evident in his ability to get them all on board with the importance of giving back. This was evident not only with his direct team but everyone in his network. He had an unmatched ability to get people hyped, whether it was for poutine or for raising funds for charity. Ryan’s passing is a true loss to We Care and the world. He impacted so many people’s lives, but I know that his infectious enthusiasm and passion will have a lasting impact on the people he interacted with, even those who just met him in passing. Ryan, you made an incredible impact on the world and those around you and your legacy will no doubt live forever. After all, the first thing that comes to mind for a lot of us when we see plaid is that crazy guy at the helm of that rock n roll gravy train. Big Hugs forever! Tiana

I heard Ryan speak at my university campus (Laurier) in 2018 about Smoke’s, the entrepreneurial journey and a contest he had for a free Smoke’s Poutinerie franchise. His energy and vision was magnetic, so much so that after the speech I rushed home and spent a few hours writing out an application. A week or so later I heard back that I was selected for an interview, and I excitedly prepared for my interview in Ajax. I don’t remember the questions in the interview, but I remember feeling a connection with Ryan and his partner as I told them stories of risks I’ve taken and how they worked out. I ended up winning the prize of the free franchise but was unable to accept the prize due to capital constraints. However, I did get this sweet picture with the man himself. Thanks for everything Ryan.

Ryan was a one of a kind, amazing person. Ryan and Tanya actually gave me my first job – but it had nothing to do with poutine! I babysat the twins when I was their neighbour in Ajax. I remember my first night babysitting and I was too shy to ask for anything like snacks or water, so before they left, Ryan said “I’m just going to leave this open bag of chips here, and this cold glass of coke…” and put it on the table in front of me. It was just one of the ways Ryan was able to make anyone, even an awkward teenager, feel comfortable and welcome. The Smolkin’s were such cool, kind, and warm neighbours. I am so sorry for the Smolkin family’s loss. You’re all in my thoughts. Love Cassidy Lakhan

I knew Ryan through work and he became a true friend. He was so much fun, everyone knows that – enigmatic in his red plaid – he rocked out, we danced and laughed and had amazing times. But he was also such a good man, with a good heart and such generous opinions of others. He was so kind. He loved his sons so much. I’ll hold him forever in my heart.

I remember the day I met Ryan like it was yesterday. We were touring the now Global Headquarters as a prospective location for his evolving passion. He told me a story about a guy he met in the woods. I was not sure what to think but I knew I had encountered one of the most interesting people in my life. I will miss you Ryan.

I loved meeting Ryan and teaching him how to do the Gator Chomp when he was in Tampa for the opening of your Amalie Arena location back in the day 🧡💙🐊

My favourite moment with Ryan was sitting in his hotel room in Calgary having coffees together shooting the shit. I learned more about his family, how much he loves his kids and some of his challenges he faced with the business during covid. We also talked about my challenges and he offered advice too. That morning we made a pact to meet for coffee or a beer when he was in town. That’s the last time I saw him in person. He is a thoughtful, considerate thinker. The outside persona was awesome but the Ryan I will most remember is the kind, considerate person who focused on the people around him.

When I was pregnant with my third, I was having some intense cravings. It was a time when he was taking comments and making videos. He sent me a whole swag envelope to fill that craving and stickers, bandanas etc for the other kids. My kids LOVE poutine, we had it the day I saw Ryan passed. His legacy will live on in our house, and I’ll always remember the day “I made it” and he picked my post. I truly felt like I peaked that day😂😂. RIP Ryan.

We have had some of the greatest fun and craziest times in our lives thanks to and with Ryan (one of the best bosses in the world) with the most unique and psychotic vision, bringing the party while maintaining the standards and excellence of Smoke’s Poutinerie! Traveling across the country in a Plaid-ified RV covered in and filled with poutine goodness, spreading the gospel of cheese curds and gravy to the masses was an unforgettable experience for anyone who witnessed it thanks to Ryan! The world will never be the same because of Ryan’s vision, execution and mission of Global Domination through Poutine, and we know the Smokes team will continue to uphold that crispy golden poutine standard in Ryan’s honor!

Doug Sakmann, Tim ‘Gravy’ Brown, and Heather Honeycutt (Smokes U.S.A.!)

We won a trip to Mexico with Ryan hosting us. We knew of his antics on social media, and to be honest, we were worried he’d make us drink tequila & gravy shots or something crazy like that. We were delighted to find he was the warmest, most down to earth host we could have asked for. Thanks to him we had the absolute trip of a lifetime!

I used to work for Sysco and we received some promo hats from Smoke’s. I took the opportunity to dress up as Ryan for Halloween. I remember one of our reps let him know, I hope he got a kick out of it.

Incredible energy….he totally embraced Chief Entertainment Officer!

I was a student fresh out of high school starting my first year of university in business school at the University of Guelph in 2019. Ryan Smolkin was a guest speaker at an event hosted by John F Wood Centre. His presentation proved that he was by far one of the most passionate entrepreneurs I have seen. He truly represented what Smoke’s Poutinerie was all about. I was lucky enough to win a Smoke’s cap and the grand prize of the event because of my knowledge I knew from doing a high school project on Smoke’s Poutinerie. Afterwards I got to chat with him for a couple of minutes. I was fortunate to get a picture with him that was featured on the Guelph Today Newspaper. He is one of the most enthusiastic guys I have gotten to know. I am gonna miss him a lot.

We had the pleasure of meeting Ryan at the Fredericton Smoke’s, he loved my little guy and kept letting him use the megaphone. He won a hat that day, and this week he randomly wore it to school. Later when I read the news, it broke my son’s heart. He made a strong impression on him, and he sleeps with his Smoke’s hat at night. We didn’t get pics but I have a little video of it for him to remember ❤️❤️

I’m grateful for what you did for me, R.I.P my friend!

I looked forward to the cne just line up at your restaurant and have me a bite of your delicious poutine and food Ryan had a energy and an enthusiasm that is hard to find anywhere rest in peace Ryan you will be missed.

I never met Ryan in person, but I did speak to him over the phone once or twice when I briefly did publicity for Smoke’s nearly a decade ago. Ryan and the Smoke’s brand were an absolute joy to write for. It was also relatively easy to book interviews for Ryan. It was probably the only time in my life where the line, “He’ll probably show you his plaid underwear,” was a selling point. Anyway, I always admired him as an entrepreneur and a person. He spread joy wherever he went. May his memory be a blessing.

I worked for Ryan at the Smokes Poutinerie head office for only 1 year before Covid. During that time he was always the most encouraging, thoughtful and supportive person. As my boss and the owner and operator he still managed to treat me and everyone as an equal, like you were his best friend. I loved my time at Smoke’s, I learned so much and I’m so thankful and lucky to have had the privilege of knowing him. Thank you, Ryan, for making the world a better place.

I had the honour of interviewing Ryan in 2015 and was able to meet his amazing twins in the process. We had a lot of fun taking these photos of them together. I remember Ryan to be the most down to earth, over the top, and kind human being I had ever met. He was a ball of energy and made time for everyone in his life. He leaves behind an emptiness that nobody will be able to fill.

To his sons; your Dad was an amazing man and he lives on through you. You were the best part of his life, and he made sure to tell me that when we met. Live proudly knowing that your Dad continues to be a positive memory for all that knew him.

– Marayna Dickinson

Hello Team,

While I have never had the pleasure of meeting Ryan Smolkin, I have lots of beautiful memories of Smoke’s Poutinerie. It was my go-to comfort food place when I was in highschool and university. I still remember walking back to my residence after a late night class and stopping for some good ol’ Smoke’s. I never met Ryan, but his Poutinerie place has left a positive impact on me! Poutine has been my number #1 comfort food ever since I tried Smoke’s! Thank you for the wonderful memories, rest in peace. Thank you Smoke’s team!

The first time we got to meet Ryan was when we were given the honour of performing at Smoke’s Poutinerie World Poutine Eating Championship in 2014 at Yonge & Dundas Square and what a fun experience that was! His love of music and camaraderie was very apparent to anyone who knew him and by the togetherness of his staff. He treated everyone with respect you couldn’t help but love him and the Poutine that he put his heart into.
We got to perform for numerous other WPEC events and he always included his charity of choice WE CARE because of the caring person that he was.
He will be truly missed by so many, but his legacy will live on…
Much love to all his family and staff from,
Moe and the guys in DESTROYER Canada Tribute to KISS

This is just one example of the many things Ryan did for the Ajax community. The United Way was doing a food drive for Thanksgiving and he engaged his twin boys hockey team to help deliver 1000lbs of potatoes to the United Way. He made it an event for the kids with games and a tour of Smokes HQ then personally drove the potatoes over. He was larger than life and all of Ajax will miss him dearly.

My favourite memory was attending the World Poutine Eating Championship for the first time back in 2017. Ryan’s spirit comes through in every part of the business!
– Melissa D’Amico ( Coca-Cola)

I never had a chance to meet Ryan but I can say 100% that he would be such a joy to be around. My husband and I have been big fans of Smoke’s for many years and have had many a night where we stumble in with a craving at like 9pm for a butter chicken poutine and a chili chicken poutine.
We live near the Ajax location and have always loved going in and chatting with everyone.
We are so sorry for the loss of such a trailblazer like Ryan. He will be missed.

I loved working at Smoke’s Poutinerie and making the Poutine Ryan created.

Every memory
Starts with an infectious smile from across the room…
Followed by a huge man hug!!!
Definitely had some air guitar, singing, dancing worked in…
Some more hugs…
Laughs… Laughs… Laughs…
Then a few I Love you Bruthas!!!
Proud stories of our kids…
Maybe some business if needed.
Finished with more hugs and always I love you brutha!!!
Will remember you until we meet again.
I love you Brutha!!!

Cold messaged Ryan once with an idea for restaurants over LinkedIn and he was so supportive out the gate. Never got to meet the guy, but his personality was evident from our messages! Great entrepreneur and lovely human being.

I had the pleasure of working directly with Ryan at Smoke’s Poutinerie Global Headquarters for over 5 years.

Ryan and I would spend countless hours almost every week sitting side by side working to bring Smoke’s vision to life. What started out as graphic design work sessions quickly grew into some of my most cherished memories, just spending time together working, getting to know one another, laughing, telling stories about our lives and ‘firing it up’!

Ryan was the first person I told I was going to propose to my now wife. After I told him my plan he told me his proposal story (Which is beyond epic as expected).

I can’t tell you enough how much Ryan cared about his family and the people he worked with on a fundamentally deep level that is rarely seen. I’ll always miss your passion, positive attitude and hearing you all of a sudden start screaming the lyrics to Nothin’ But A Good Time, climbing on a table and air guitaring the solo like you’re in front of 80,000 people.

The world lost one of the best ever.

My heartfelt condolences and deepest sympathies go out to Ryan’s beloved family, friends and colleagues. He cared and loved you all so much. I remember him smiling ear to ear when speaking of taking his kids to football (the en-route shenanigans being his fav), his special annual sports trip with his Dad, his siblings and his roots/heritage. This pic is from a mtg we had in Ottawa (I was so tired that day coming off a midnight run, and lost to him on the photo energy level in this shot. He nailed me for that one lol!! Non-stop banter about whose ROCK STAR shenanigans were more bada$$. We were supposed to battle it out over an air guitar session… I guess I’ll just have to wait a bit more Ryan, but I can’t wait!). Miss you bud, ROCK ON forever 🤘🏽🎸🪽.

I met him at the Canadian Franchise Association. He soon became the Center of attention with his character and his outfit. Positive energy. Friendly to everyone. I remember dancing with him to all hours at the Hard Rock Cafe. So much energy!!

Ryan was the most energetic, passionate, and memorable individual I’ve ever met. His infectious personality and unbreakable confidence was an inspiration to me during my younger entrepreneurial days and everyone that met him. My heart goes out to the Smolkin’ and Smoke’s Family. This is a huge loss to the world. We shared many laughs during the food service conference circuit. I always admired Ryan and looked up to him, not for his success, but for living his dream and staying true to himself. RIP big guy. 🤘

I can’t remember what year, but many years ago, my parents & I went to Smoke’s in downtown St. Catharines for a huge anniversary celebration of Smoke’s store and got to actually meet Ryan even he asked me and my parents for filming of all 3 of us to show how much we love Poutine. I remember telling him while filming that it is amazing even Ryan was shocked & happy when my mom told him that she came back for a second or third round in a same day. He really gave so much love that would really enjoyed having Poutine. I want to say thank you Ryan for making all your staff/customers with smiles in our faces & hope you’re somewhere in a better place to make more Poutine in heaven.
R.I.P. Ryan!
From a customer who loves Poutine;

Ryan visited the Givex office and he and his team were in our meeting room. We have a secure facility and he needed a key card to use the washroom. I gave him mine and off he went. Well on his return he decided to take the long way back to the room and ended up “high fiving” 2 dozen shocked people in our office, generated a fun murmur amongst everyone. Our V.P. chided me for giving him my card, I would do it every day just to have his special energy spread amongst the team. R.I.P. Don (D.J.) Smith – Givex

We only met a handful of times but they were so meaningful and impactful. You can totally feel the passion coming from him. And I loved it. It was infectious. But the most memorable memory I had was following him on LinkedIn as he shared himself going to local restaurants who were likely struggling during the height of the pandemic. He’d buy food bring it back and eat and talk about how awesome it was. He’d totally promote these businesses and never once plugged his own. I thought it was so selfless.

Lastly, he was doing a business pitch competition for my event. I was all game for him to have an walk up song “nothing but a good time” by Poison. The AV team botched it. And I was so apologetic. He said no worries and pushed on with the same energy and enthusiasm as if the song was playing.

Rock On Ryan!

I was very fortunate to be able to work closely with Ryan for almost a decade. At 23 he helped me with the business opportunity of becoming a franchise owner, which now looking back has changed the course of my life forever. I also got to travel around North America with him for a number of years opening stores and doing trade shows. It was always a blast and never a dull moment. I learned more from him than I did through any education.
I also once went out for dinner with him one time where he ate over 100 pieces of sushi in one sitting. It was one of the most impressive things I’ve ever seen. True story.

Hey Ryan being Irish I know you are up in heaven as when I first met you it certainly felt like home! You are an inspiration and your legacy will continue, you may not be here in body but you will always be here in spirit- you are a total inspiration and a revolutionary change to the franchise arena -a total bright spark which even the embers were jealous of- we all love you and totally aspire to be just like you – as we wish you well on your next journey please God here is our wish for you xxx
May her lakes and rivers bless you. May the luck of the Irish enfold you. Saint Patrick behold you.” “Death leaves a heartache no one can heal; Love leaves a memory no one can steal.”
Blessings to your dear family, friends and the team at Smoke’s sending you all love and blessings ❤️ ☘️

I remember spending, time at the Smoke’s conferences over the years with Ryan. He was the most engaged leader in every way. Ryan we will miss you. Very sorry to Ryan’s family and the Smoke’s team for the loss.

Lorne Aranoff / Dorfin Inc.

I was very unknown for him, I just throw a random message about business inquiry to Ryan on his LinkedIn account and his immediate response and connect me with right team member shows his dedication & activeness towards his work and that make me so impressed about his personality. Each of his photo are so energetic and real that feels me that he will speak at any moment. RIP 😔!!!

Ryan is a bundle of excitement and joy. I remembered doing my presentation at Global Headquarters and I didn’t show as much excitement. Ryan came over and started doing his thing, encouraging me that I have to feel. There is never a dull moment when he is around. He surely has impacted my life in a huge way. Rock On……

I remember when Ryan told me he was opening a poutine restaurant. I was amused and hopeful for him. All these years since, I realized how his courage and passion were a blueprint for living life to its fullest. I’m so grateful for knowing him and for having benefited from his exemplary ways. Rest in passion my man.

Ryan was a ball of creative energy and enthusiasm. His smile and excitement were infectious and lit up the room, wherever he was. When he came out of character and spoke quietly, he was fun and engaging – truly a one of a kind guy. Buddy, you’re going to be missed.

First memory I can recall is sitting beside him in grade 7, desks were pushed together in rows of two’s. He stretched his leg out just as the student in front of me went to sit back down at his desk, and pulled the chair out from under the kid. He fell on his ass and Ryan promptly proclaimed “dude Tracey, not cool. Not cool at all” . That day he was an ass lol. But he was a great guy, with a big heart. He will be missed.💚

Even though I only met him that one time he was the man. He was full of energy and jamming on his air guitar.

An absolute rockstar in every sense. I had the pleasure of being with Ryan at many speaking engagements and media spots. He was always so genuine and passionate about his brand and his team and that was infectious to everyone around him. I wish I had a photo of the makeshift poutine he made from a Mexican resort buffet, but the memory will have to do. Rest easy Ryan.

I believe I only met Ryan once but have loved his creation since 2015. The brand launched my brief career as a YouTube Food reviewer. His passion and enthusiasm is unmatched. We will continue to Fire it Up for you Ryan! 🤟

My favourite story was the time I presented Foodservice and Hospitality’s Pinnacle Award to him at our Gala luncheon. Ryan showed up in his traditional plaid garb in a room filled with execs in suits. And when he went onstage to accept the award, he broke out in song and played the air guitar! He was the hit of the day! I’ll never forget the energy in the room as attendees were mesmerized by his performance! RIP Ryan. You’ll never be forgotten.

I am so grateful to have known Ryan. He was always one of those people that walked into a room and owned every inch of it and if you weren’t paying attention, he would make goddamn sure you did. You wanted to be a part of his world, and I will forever be lucky to have been even a tiny part of it.

His personality, drive and energy was infectious, as well as his ability to motivate everyone around him. I’m not surprised to see how many lives he touched, including my own. I am so honoured to have known him.

I am among the many who are so very sorry to learn about Ryan’s untimely passing.

In my early days as CEO at the Canadian Franchise Association I had the pleasure of meeting Ryan as Smoke’s started on its franchising journey. What an unforgettable person of character and vision! And that laugh!

Ryan often said he appreciated the personal support he got from me and, of course, CFA. Ryan, Mark, and I met at many franchise events and always had great fun together. It was always a bright spot to be in the glow of Ryan’s energy and no one could fail to notice and admire him…and his commitment to leading Smoke’s to Global Domination!

My deepest condolences to Ryan’s family and the team at his beloved Smoke’s. I know that everyone will be exceptional at continuing the development of Smoke’s and of Ryan’s extraordinary vision and energy. RIP Ryan, an amazingly bright light gone far too soon.

With love,
Lorraine McLachlan

Nobody understood the power of music like Ryan.

Every Smoke’s Poutinerie has a signature sound like no other – 80s hair metal – capturing a time, place and feeling vividly.

The very first time we met, Ryan, seeing the name of my company, said to me “RadioMogul? What’s that all about?”

I said “It’s you, man. It was made for you. You’re the mogul we had in mind.”

And indeed he was, everywhere he went, and with everyone he met. The producer, director & star in a manic, magical, musical stage show.

Scenes from the glorious rock opera that was the life of Ryan Smolkin will play in the minds of audience members everywhere for many years to come.


I’m so grateful for Ryan’s friendship through the years. His indomitable spirit and infectious enthusiasm and sense of humour are unmatched. He has taught me so much about wholehearted living, trust, and gratitude. It is so inspiring to see just how many lives he has touched.

My favourite memory of Ryan is from last years cross country tour. Ryan and Kristin found my favourite chocolate milk and doughnuts that we can’t get in Ontario….. Ryan was very quick to rub it in!

I remember calling on the Head Office 10 years ago and Ryan pulled out his air guitar and started playing right in the middle of the sales call. A memorable call with a guy full of energy.. Susan Goldie

I met Ryan Smolkin, founder and CEO of Smoke’s Poutinerie, when his restaurant chain was nominated as an emerging cult brand for The Gathering Summit.

He agreed to an interview and I liked him instantly.

He was so unique. So smart. So charismatic. So committed. I told him he reminded me of Randy ‘Macho Man’ Savage. He said I wasn’t the first person to tell him that.

Ryan was an ad guy and a marketer. He knew how to build brands and engage customers. He decided to apply his skills to build his own brand, and he became an entrepreneur. His work ethic was impressive. His energy was contagious.

I invited him to come speak at The Gathering during the Covid year when all presentations were done in front of cameras and an empty studio. He didn’t care. He hosted his own version of a rock concert and threw swag out to a room he imagined was full of people. I was smiling the whole time. I knew he was an Original, and I was so happy I got to experience him live and in person.

Ryan died this week. It was unexcepted, and I’m sure his family is still in disbelief.

I’m unsure what will become of the company he built because no one can do what he did. I hope this team finds a way to make it thrive. His company is the embodiment of his spirit, and everyone deserves a chance to enjoy it.

Rest in peace Ryan. I’m so glad I got to know you a bit.

You can never ever forget Ryan, if you met him. His motivation and energy for life and
Specially for Smokes Poutinerie is unbeatable.
We salute you Poutine God 🙏


Literally so many hilarious stories with Ryan. From him teaching me how to air guitar, to celebrating wins with nerf gun fights around the head quarters, to working on the 80s gala for Friends of We Care. Every time I interacted with Ryan I felt energized.

I remember when Ryan wanted to take poutine to Michigan he came to me with the idea and painted a picture of what he wanted. All seemed great. Until it was phone calls with customs and boarder agents at midnight trying to get a load to clear. I remember talking to Ryan that night and he wasn’t stressed at all. He just told me “you have a vision, you surround yourself with the right people in life to make it come to life”. At that point it didn’t matter what needed to be done. That vision was going to come to life.

Thank you for always inspiring me to never accept no for an answer. If I want it, I’ll find away to make it happen. I’ll always think of you when I wear plaid.

Hi Smokes Team,

I read the story that your founder, Ryan, had passed away, as I was scrolling through evening news on my phone. I didn’t know Ryan, but have wonderful memories of Smokes. After moving to Halifax, Nova Scotia for my undergrad degree, from South Africa, I tried poutine for the very first time, at Smokes. That marked the start of many late night trips to Smokes, alone and with friends. I’m now based in Toronto, but whenever I pass by a Smokes it makes me nostalgic about my years in Halifax! It is my birthday this weekend, and I will buy a poutine at Smokes to celebrate. My condolences to the Smokes family.


Had a last min photo shoot at his Original location was an amazing photo shoot and day

Going to miss you man

Ryan supporting us at 1st pan am Games in Toronto brought our red plaid to the game was an amazing day

We had the privilege of meeting Ryan numerous times at We Care events, and his affection was always apparent. His love for Shamil and his unwavering support for children with special needs were beautifully reflected in his warm and caring nature. Ryan’s legacy of love and support at these events will forever hold a special place in our hearts.

Miss you!