adamson bbq

Adamson BBQ owner Adam Skelly raises more than $170k to cover legal expenses

A gofundme campaign set up on behalf of Adamson BBQ owner Adam Skelly to cover the costs of his legal battle for defying pandemic lockdown orders and welcoming diners inside his Toronto restaurant has now raised more than $170,000 and counting.

Skelly became the poster child for the anti-lockdown fight this week when he opened the Etobicoke location of his business for maskless indoor and outdoor dining on not just one, but three days in a row.

The move, which he advertised to his tens of thousands of social media followers beforehand, came just after Toronto and Peel Region were plunged into stringent Grey level lockdown that prohibits eateries from operating beyond providing takeout and delivery.

"I complied with the two weeks to flatten the curve. I complied again during the 'second wave' when we locked down, when Doug Ford promised us that there would be supporting evidence to shut down the restaurants, bars and gyms," Skelly said in an Instagram video posted to the Adamson account on Monday evening.

"The data from Toronto Public Health shows that two of the over 10,000 Ontario COVID deaths were linked to bars, restaurants and retail. So why are we getting we getting singled out? And the big multinational corporations are all essential while they're packed?"

Authorities on scene formally ordered Adamson at the QEW and Royal York to close late Tuesday afternoon after Skelly had served up ribs and brisket for five whole hours. On Wednesday, they laid nine charges against the proprietor under Ontario's Health Protection and Promotion Act after he opened his doors again — and sold out of product within an hour.

He was taken away in handcuffs on Thursday after what was the most hectic day at Adamson thus far, with police changing the locks on the establishment early that morning in an attempt to prevent it from welcoming crowds once more.

In light of the drama, a fundraiser was launched to finance Skelly's legal battle and, in the words of organizer Barry McNamar, "help Adam fight for our freedoms... amidst the slough of politicians, media and citizen fear mongers supporting irrational COVID 'public health orders' that shut down small businesses while allowing corporate box stores to remain open."

In less than 24 hours, the campaign had raised more than $28,000. In less than 48 hours, at the time this article was first published, it sat at just over $131,000. And as of Friday evening, it's hit more than $171,000 more than from over 3,600 donators, and still growing rapidly.

The hashtag #IStandWithAdam and others also arose and began trending on Twitter as a result, with prominent Canadian anti-masker Chris Sky among Skelly's avid supporters.

Skelly initially had the sympathy of Ontario Premier Doug Ford, who said he "couldn't get angry" at the 33-year-old given how badly small business owners are struggling right now.

But after the barbecue baron flouted provincial restrictions for multiple days in a row, Ford changed his tune to be more in line with Toronto Major John Tory, condemning the restaurateur's actions irresponsible, ridiculous, and unacceptable in his daily presser on Wednesday.

The saga has been extremely divisive, to say the least, during a time when tensions are already running extremely high as citizens and businesses face at least 24 more days of severe lockdown that forbids the regular operation of countless businesses and orders residents to only leave their homes for essential reasons.

Lead photo by

Hector Vasquez

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