adamson bbq toronto

A Toronto restaurant is reopening for indoor dining to defy lockdown orders

The owner of Toronto's popular Adamson Barbecue restaurant is kicking up COVID-related controversy once again this week in what might be his boldest (and riskiest) move to date: Opening up for indoor dining while the region is under lockdown.

"Hello Adamson Barbecue fans!" said outspoken restaurateur Adam Skelly in a video posted to his brand's Instagram account Monday evening.

"I'm coming on here today to let you guys know that our Etobicoke location, tomorrow — that's Tuesday — will be opening for in-restaurant dining against provincial orders at eleven o'clock."

Adamson Barbecue Etobicoke, which opened as the brand's third location earlier this fall, is expected to resume full operations today at 11:00 a.m. at 7 Queen Elizabeth Blvd., just off Royal York Road near the Gardiner Expressway.

This is, of course, forbidden by both the City of Toronto and the provincial government, which moved Toronto and Peel into the "grey zone" lockdown level of its new COVID-19 restriction framework system on Monday.

Any restaurant found to be in contravention of public health orders currently faces fines of up to $25,000 per day from the municipal government alone. Individuals, such as Skelly, would be personally liable for another $5,000 per day on top of that under City rules.

Bolstered by the support of his fans, Skelly doesn't seem to care.

"For those of you who have eyes to see why I'm doing this, thank you guys so much. Thank you for the messages of support, thank you for filling out my little polls, thank you for letting me know that we have people in our corner," he said in his Instagram dispatch Monday night.

"This is a risky move and you guys gave me the gas to do this, so I just want to thank you guys so much."

Judging by the number of views on his video — more than 100,000 in less than 24 hours — and the hundreds of comments, Skelly does indeed have many supporters — as well as detractors.

The controversial businessman, who opened the first of his wildly-popular Texas-style BBQ joints in Leaside four years ago, explained in his video why he was taking such a bold stance.

"Top to bottom, this thing stinks — it reeks of corruption," said Skelly of the lockdown, noting that he didn't have enough time to lay out everything in detail.

"I'm going to start with just one point: We're using PCR tests with a cycle threshold of over 40 to drive hysteria around case counts," he continued.

"If you guys understand what's going on with these PCR tests and their cycle thresholds, you know that they're picking up all sorts of other stuff that's not COVID — bacterial infections, other coronaviruses including the common cold, fragments from the flu shot... If you know that, then you know we're going to be about 2.5 per cent positivity rate until the end of spring."

"How many businesses — how many people — are going to lose everything?" said Skelly. "Enough is enough."

Skelly went on to complain about a lack of supporting evidence from the Ford government for closing small businesses, and about the fact that large chains have been allowed to stay open despite being rammed with people.

"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," he said.

"The data from Toronto Public Health that came out two weeks ago 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?"

Skelly is encouraging anyone who agrees with his standpoint to come and join him at the Etobicoke location of Adamson Barbecue today after 11 a.m.

"We're opening for anybody who is a fan of freedom and sovereignty — the right to choose what you wear, where to go, who to have over at your house, what businesses you can go to," he said in his Instagram video.

"I'd love to meet ya tomorrow. I'll be there at the door in Etobicoke."

Lead photo by

Hector Vasquez at Adamson Barbecue

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