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Previously friendly Ford sinks teeth into Adamson BBQ: 'You need to shut down'

Last Updated Nov 25, 2020 at 4:35 pm EDT

Summary

The BBQ restaurant reopened on Wednesday, drawing police to the location for the second straight day.


Owner Adam Skelly is facing a total of 9 charges and has a March 19, 2021 court date.


Toronto and Peel Region entered the lockdown stage of the province’s COVID-19 response framework on Monday.


Toronto police and bylaws officers were back at Adamson Barbecue Wednesday but it wasn’t for the ribs.

For the second straight day the Etobicoke restaurant drew the attention of the authorities — and a motley crew of supporters — for defying the province’s lockdown orders that forbid indoor dining.

Owner Adam Skelly is now facing a total of nine charges over the last two days.

Municipal Licencing and Standards and Toronto Public Health both laid new charges Wednesday, as did the province under the Reopening Ontario Act.

Skelly is scheduled to appear in court on March 19, 2021. Police say nobody in the large crowd that congregated at the restaurant was charged.

No more Mr. Nice Guy for Ford

Premier Doug Ford was criticized on Tuesday for what some considered a lenient stance on Skelly’s defiance.

“I can’t get angry at any businessperson, they’re hurting right now,” he said.

But a day later he changed his tone.

“People are dying because of COVID-19 and he just wants to say forget it and have everyone down there? It is absolutely irresponsible and ridiculous,” Ford fumed.

“I was nice to the guy yesterday,” he added. “But buddy, let me tell you something, you need to shut down. You’re putting people’s lives in jeopardy.”

Police vow action

Skelly’s Etobicoke BBQ joint did close later Wednesday afternoon, but it’s not yet clear if it did so out of compliance with orders, or simply because for the second straight day it ran out of food. Either way, Toronto police Supt. Domenic Sinopoli said the closure made their jobs easier.

“Police did contemplate dispersing the large crowd but they came to an understanding with the owner that he would close down the business.”

“At the end of the day this a public health crisis,” he added. “The fact that there were so many people congregated in one location, particularly without any facial coverings, is of concern to us.”

Skelly hasn’t confirmed reports that he plans to open again on Thursday, but Sinopoli said if he did, action would be taken.

“We are in a position to stop him if he opens tomorrow, the next day and so forth. The strategy will change from day-to-day depending on what we’re faced with.”

When earlier asked who would have the authority to shutter the restaurant for its flagrant flouting of lockdown rules, Toronto councillor Mark Grimes, who represents Etobicoke-Lakeshore, seemed unsure.

“Probably the Toronto police I would say, but again, that’s a legal issue we are looking at now … this may go to the Supreme Court,” he said.

The slow-cooked drama began on Monday night when Skelly posted a message on his business’ Instagram page saying he would open for full-service Tuesday.

He followed through on that vow, drawing dozens of maskless patrons who dined on his fare inside the restaurant at 7 Queen Elizabeth Blvd.

Adrian Ghobrial reported live from the chaotic scene on Wednesday afternoon. Watch as he’s confronted by store owner Adam Skelly below:

Police and city bylaw officers attended the scene Tuesday, but allowed the restaurant to remain open, with police saying dispersing the large crowds would have posed a public safety risk.

Later Tuesday, the restaurant was ordered to close by Toronto’s medical officer of health. “Investigations require the gathering of all the facts before enforcement action can be taken,” the City said in a release. “The City has now taken enforcement action, and the restaurant is closed.”

But Skelly took to Instagram again on Tuesday night, saying he would open on Wednesday from 11 a.m. until his food sells out.

About half a dozen officers headed back at the location Wednesday morning. Upon entering the premises, a flood of Skelly’s supporters began chanting “Freedom! Freedom!”

A few hours later, several city bylaw officers arrived.

The restaurant has become somewhat of a mecca for anti-maskers, conspiracy theorists and COVID-19 deniers.

Indoor dining was banned in Toronto and Peel on Monday as part of provincial lockdown orders for the two COVID-19 hotspots.

Restaurants are still allowed to offer take-out and delivery.