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Toronto restaurant owner under fire for controversial COVID-19 comments, language

Click to play video 'Leaside restaurant under fire after controversial COVID-19 comments' Leaside restaurant under fire after controversial COVID-19 comments
WATCH ABOVE: The owner of Adamson Barbecue is facing backlash after his comments on COVID-19 and using vulgar language in response to critics. Kamil Karamali reports.

The owner of a popular barbecue restaurant in Toronto’s Leaside neighbourhood has now apologized to the public, after questioning the severity of COVID-19 and using offensive language towards other social media users.

“It has been a long, eye-opening week. I regret my comments made in frustration,” Adamson Barbecue owner Adam Skelly told Global News.

“I now realize, although not at all intended to cause harm to anyone, my comments did just that. I am better than this and my family, friends, employees and community deserve more.”

READ MORE: Canadian restaurants say delivery app fees eating away at bottom line amid COVID-19

The controversy began when Skelly took to Twitter on Monday from his restaurant’s official account, questioning some of the statistics released concerning the novel coronavirus.

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From the public and patrons alike, the response was heated.

“He’s not an epidemiologist, he’s spewing anti-quarantine stances and it’s really quite shocking,” said former customer Maggie Keats.

“It was very disappointing. I’m never going back there. Never.”

Others raised concerns about what his comments might mean in the broader context of the pandemic itself.

“I’m concerned for people buying food from there,” said Leaside community member Beverly Bates.

“If this person owns an establishment like that [and] if he doesn’t think [COVID-19] is as serious as it is, what precautions is he taking at his place?”
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After several social media users refuted Skelly’s stance on COVID-19, the restaurant owner then responded with vulgar language and offensive name-calling.

“Braindead bootlicking moron,” he said in one tweet. Another read, “you have the critical thinking of a toddler.”

READ MORE: 800,000 restaurant jobs lost in Canada in March amid COVID-19: survey

On several occasions, Skelly also used an offensive term used to describe people who have a mental disability, referring to one social media user as a ‘blubbering braindead r-word’ and another as a ‘f—ing r-word.’

“I was sick to my stomach,” said Bates, who has a six-year-old daughter with Down syndrome. “I was angry. You feel so many emotions as a mother of a child that has a disability.

“This word is never okay to use.”

Conspiracy Pizza restaurant, which used to be owned by Skelly and is next door to Adamson Barbecue, said it’s also facing the repercussions of the social media outburst.

“Obviously we don’t agree with any of the comments [Skelly] made. None of his views reflect our views,” said Dan Rios, owner of Conspiracy Pizza.

“We share the same facility, that is true. But that’s where the story ends. I think it’s very unfortunate that we got sucked into this.”

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In his public apology posted Tuesday, Skelly said, “this was my fault and my fault alone.”

“Knowing that an apology does not take back the inappropriate and insensitive comments from this week, I am sorry to everyone that I affected, insulted and offended,” Skelly’s apology read.

“I’m sorry that it took the additional public comments and response to tell you how sorry I am.”

Skelly also took to Instagram to offer a donation of 500 meals to local organizations affected by the virus and asked social media users to comment on his post to suggest local groups who could benefit from the offer.

Adam Skelly, owner of Adamson Barbecue, issues this public apology after a social media outburst that included offensive language.
Adam Skelly, owner of Adamson Barbecue, issues this public apology after a social media outburst that included offensive language.