Adamson Barbecue owner arrested after defying lockdown orders for third straight day

Adam Skelly of the Etobicoke restaurant was taken away in handcuffs and faces a total of nine charges


The story was updated on November 26

Adamson Barbecue owner Adam Skelly was taken away in handcuffs by the Toronto Police today (November 26) after attempting to open the Etobicoke restaurant for a third straight day.

Skelly had opened the previous two days for indoor dining in defiance provincial lockdown orders and an official closure order from the Toronto Minster of Health.

Police changed the locks at Adamson on Thursday morning, where supporters and other anti-mask and anti-lockdown figures (including Toronto anti-mask figurehead Chris Saccocia) had set up to protest.

Toronto Police superintendent Dom Sinopoli said during a press conference on Wednesday that Skelly faces a total of nine non-criminal charges.

The charges fall under the Reopening Ontario Act for operating despite the public health lockdown order and for illegal gatherings inside and outside the restaurant, which police believe Skelly organized.

Each charge can result in up to $10,000 for individuals and $100,000 for corporations.

He’s also charged for municipal bylaw infractions for operating without a business license, which carries a fine up to $50,000.

Skelly will appear in court on March 19, 2021.

During his daily Queen’s Park press conference on Wednesday, Premier Doug Ford said he was nice to Skelly on Tuesday, but changed his tone.

“I get it. People are getting edgy out there. And people want to open up their business,” Ford said. “Buddy, you need to shut down. You’re putting people’s lives in jeopardy.”

The BBQ restaurant became a flashpoint for anti-lockdown protest on Tuesday (November 24).

After Skelly posted a video on Instagram saying he intended to defy Ontario lockdown orders and open Adamson Barbecue for indoor dining on Tuesday, he repeated a popular conspiracy theory that case counts were being inflated and said the lockdown “stinks of corruption.”

Diners, many of them apparently maskless (including Skelly himself), packed into the restaurant on Tuesday while various media watched from outside.

To the sounds of Rage Against The Machine’s Killing In The Name Of and its “fuck you, I won’t do what you tell me” chorus, public health officials and city bylaw officers showed up to conduct an investigation. Toronto Police were also there.

Eventually, the officers left and the restaurant remained open with customers continuing to eat lunch inside. Neither Skelly nor Adamson Barbecue were immediately fined.

But inspector Tim Crone said in a media scrum that he expected charges would be laid later this week. He said the officials were just there to conduct the inspection, not shut the restaurant down, and that Toronto Police were just there to ensure public safety.

When asked why the restaurant was allowed to stay open, he said that given the number of people inside they “didn’t have the capacity to go in and remove everyone.”

In a press conference later that day, Toronto police Staff Superintendent Mark Barkley said Adamson Barbecue has been ordered closed. Toronto spokesperson Brad Ross confirmed it on Twitter, saying the restaurant was shut down under Section 22 of the Health Protection and Promotion Act.

“Investigations require the gathering of all the facts before enforcement action can be taken,” he said. “The City has now taken enforcement action, and the restaurant is closed.”

Adamson is also being investigated for non-compliance with business licensing, zoning, public health, Ontario Building Code and the Ontario Fire Code, Ross said.

Barkley says police should have taken action earlier.

“Plain and simple, it was a mistake,” he said. “There was an opportunity to enforce the law.”

@trapunski

Comments (6)

  • Brian Hoeniger November 25, 2020 05:15 PM

    Honestly this was not a cool move. Adamson’s southern fare is awesome, Ive been to their Leaside location many times, but Ill be going to other BBQ establishments in the GTA in the future after this f***up by the owners.

  • Doug throughton November 26, 2020 07:52 PM

    Adam Skelly’s long time patrons (myself included) guarantee he has been able to make ends meet with take out and delivery.

    Heck, I’m on the email list for discounts and he thanked everyone this past summer for having a super profitable summer season.

    This was a publicity stunt and I’ll be taking my business elsewhere.

    Adam Skelly, pusateris, toilet paper resellers all have one thing In Common: they couldn’t care less about society and are truly in it for themselves.

    No way I’m letting this skeeve feed my family.

  • Denis Robert November 27, 2020 04:38 AM

    There’s a confluence of Right Wing lunacy at play here, with Trumpists, anti-vaxxers and anti-maskers being largely indistinguishable from one another and from the usual extreme-right white supremacist thugs they congregate with. They sing in unison: “My right to kill you is more important than your right to live”. Scary times.

    • Paul Short November 27, 2020 09:43 AM

      The lunacy is in your comment Denis Robert, grouping together random strangers as thugs and white supremecists shows how divided our population truly is. Stay at home if you are elderly or high risk and collect the government stipend, those who are not at risk should be able to earn a living just like the billionaires who are allowed to operate during this ‘casedemic’. You are as bad as any of those extreme-right you reference to with your vitriol. You don’t like it, turn off the tv and read a damn book…this is 100% social media driven.

      • Denis Robert December 6, 2020 08:58 PM

        First: There was nothing “random” about the people at the Adamson’s BBQ. It was a media event that was organized by a group of online anti-mask activists over extreme-right sites such as Parler, and one of the stars of the event was a very vocal and open white supremacist.

        Second: There is no such thing as “not at risk”. You clearly haven’t been paying attention to the fact that the vast majority of cases right now are within the 20-39 age bracket, and that the death rate has not slowed down significantly. And there is such as thing as getting sick and not dying; many of those who survive the disease have long term consequences, which will only become clear after some time.

        These people (and you, since you agree with them) are risking other people’s lives with their (and yours) ignorance of basic scientific facts. You read a post or two online and think yourselves immediately qualified to contradict the opinions of people who actually dedicate their lives to the subject. It’s a critically dangerous combination of hubris and idiocy.

  • Eric November 28, 2020 04:17 AM

    “the Toronto Minster of Health”

    While some folks are agitating for charter city status,
    it turns out that Toronto already has ministries like a province!

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