Adamson bbq no license

Adamson BBQ has been operating without a business licence for 4 years

Opening a restaurant in purposeful defiance of pandemic orders isn't the only unlawful thing Adamson Barbecue owner Adam Skelly has done as a restauranteur, according to an explosive report from The Toronto Star.

Apparently, the original Leaside location of his popular BBQ joint (not to be confused with the anti-masker haven in Etobicoke) has never been granted a business licence. Ever.

As reported by The Star and confirmed by the City of Toronto on Wednesday, the owner of Adamson Barbecue has been operating the first of his three locations at 176 Wicksteed Ave. in East York since it opened in 2016 without securing a licence to do so.

Over the past four years, Skelly and his corporation have been convicted for operating without a licence a total of three times: Once in March of 2017, once in December of 2017 and once in September of 2019.

Fines of $200, $100 and $500 were issued and paid in relation to these offences.

"That's less than what he would have had to pay in annual fees to the city to actually obtain a licence — $510.65 for the initial licence and $307.80 to renew annually — over the last five years," noted The Star in its report on Wednesday.

"And it's far less than the $25,000 maximum fine for an individual and $50,000 for a corporation if convicted of operating without a business licence."

When asked how the controversial restaurant owner has been allowed to get away with running an unlicensed business for so long, Toronto Mayor John Tory likened Skelly to a convicted drunk driver.

"There's only so much you can do with regard to those people," said the mayor during a press conference Wednesday afternoon, calling the situation "profoundly frustrating and disappointing."

"Most people think about other people; they think about their fellow citizens; they think about public health... some don't."

Indeed: Skelly is already facing numerous charges related to his blatant flouting of the provincial government's COVID lockdown rules, which currently prohibit indoor dining and all social gatherings in Toronto and Peel.

The 33-year-old was in fact arrested and taken from the site of his Etobicoke restaurant on Thursday for obstructing police after opening his restaurant illegally for the third day in a row.

Skelly's Etobicoke location does not have a business licence either, the restaurant owner admitted to The Star, blaming the fact that he signed a lease for the location just two days before the lockdown and couldn't afford to wait on licensing due to "tight cash flow."

The City of Toronto's executive director of municipal licensing and standards, Carleton Grant, told 680 News on Wednesday that Skelly has long been defying regulations.

"It's disappointing that he's flouting the law like this," said Grant.

"We have issued charges in the past. We are continuing to work with him to bring him in to compliance. There is a zoning issue in the Leaside location where it's not permitted, where he would be required to get a change of use permit."

Toronto residents are once again throwing their hands in the air with frustration over discrepancies in how authorities are handling the Skelly situation versus other, less-dangerous offences... such as reporters parking on streets in front of Adamson promptly recieving tickets, or the recent removal of a community fridge in Parkdale due to a bylaw infraction.

It remains to be seen if Skelly will reopen any of his restaurants once all is said and done, but he will appear in court to face at least nine charges March 19, 2021.

Failure to comply with Toronto Public Health rules a class order pursuant to Section 22 of Ontario's Health Protection and Promotion Act can also net businesses fines of up to $25,000 per day.

The maximum penalty upon conviction for violating the Reopening Ontario Act is up to $100,000 for individuals plus a term of imprisonment of up to one year.

Lead photo by

Hector Vaaquez


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