adamson bbq

Toronto lifts order requiring Adamson Barbecue to stay closed

Toronto's medical officer of health has lifted the order mandating the closure of Adamson Barbecue's Etobicoke location following repeated incidents of openly defying lockdown rules, but that doesn't mean owner Adam Skelly is now free to do as he pleases — not even close.

Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa first issued the Section 22 order under the Health Protection and Promotion Act (HPPA) on Nov. 24 after Skelly opened his restaurant for indoor and outdoor dining three days in a row in protest of the lockdown rules. 

In a news release published Tuesday, the city said Skelly was sent a letter reminding him that "the order was necessary in light of the risk to health posed by the considerably unsafe operation of the Premises in contravention of required COVID-19 measures in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic."

The lifting of the order means the Adamson Barbecue location at 7 Queen Elizabeth Blvd. is technically free to open for takeout, delivery or drive through as is permitted under the lockdown restrictions. 

But that's assuming the business is in compliance with the City of Toronto's business licensing bylaw and has passed a DineSafe inspection, which isn't quite the case.

Following the days-long saga in which the restaurant illegally served patrons amid the lockdown, it was revealed that Adamson Barbecue had been operating without a license for the past four years and Skelly and his business have collectively been convicted for operating without a business licence three times since 2017.

"The City of Toronto's Executive Director of Municipal Licensing and Standards (MLS) has written to the owner of Adamson Barbecue warning that he must comply with all relevant laws, including zoning and business licensing bylaws, and that failure to comply 'may place your future business licence status in jeopardy,'" reads the city's release. 

"In particular, the letter also advised that the owner is 'prohibited from carrying on the businesses unless and until he has a valid licence.' The failure to operate without a business licence can result in a maximum penalty of $25,000 for an individual and $50,000 for a corporation."

The MLS letter also warned Skelly that a court may order that the premises be closed for up to two years if an owner is convicted of knowingly operating without a business licence.

Additionally, the province sought and received a restraining order against Adamson Barbeque, its owner and other agents on Dec. 4, which restrains them from contravening the Lockdown Regulation under the Reopening Ontario Act (ROA) and therefore prohibits them from offering indoor and outdoor dining.

That restraining order remains in place and, if Skelly were to once again try and defy the lockdown restrictions and the subsequent restraining order by reopening for indoor and/or outdoor dining, the owner, the business and/or its employees and agents could face contempt of court findings, according to the city. 

Any individual convicted of contravening the ROA by a court could face a fine of no more than $100,000 and a term of imprisonment of no more than one year, and a corporation could be subject to a fine of no more than $10,000,000.

An individual who is an officer or director of a corporation could meanwhile be subject to a fine of no more than $500,000 and a term of imprisonment of no more than one year. 

And despite the above maximum fines, the city said "the court may increase a fine by the amount of financial benefit acquired by or accrued to the convicted person as a result of the commission of the offence," meaning Skelly could also have to pay back the money he earned during the days in which he illegally reopened and sold out his entire stock.

"During COVID-19, the majority of businesses in Toronto have complied with regulations necessary to protect public health. The City thanks those businesses and residents for doing the right thing during this difficult time," said the city in the release. 

"Businesses and individuals who do not comply with regulations designed to protect the public's health, however, face significant financial penalties."

Lead photo by

Hector Vasquez

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