The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) has suspended a Barrie restaurant’s liquor licence after the establishment defied the province’s COVID-19 shutdown and stay-at-home order.
On Saturday, AGCO compliance officials went to the Simmering Kettle restaurant for a follow-up inspection after the business remained open for dine-in services during Ontario’s shutdown.
Upon entering the restaurant on Bryne Drive, AGCO compliance officers noted that customers and staff weren’t wearing masks. The AGCO also said the officers were offered a table for dine-in before they identified themselves.
When they identified themselves and asked to speak with the person in charge, the AGCO said the officers were told that the restaurant’s owner wasn’t present.
According to the AGCO, compliance officers were told that public health came in the day before, that there is a court date set and that it’s “none of the [officials’] business.”
“The situation escalated very quickly,” the AGCO said in a news release. “Patrons gathered and demanded that the [compliance officials] leave the premises because they were trespassing. They pointed to a sign on the door to that effect.”
The AGCO said about seven to 10 customers then began chanting, “Get out, get out.” The provincial agency also alleged that none of the customers were wearing masks as they “moved towards” the compliance officers.
“The [compliance official] advised the staff member that they were failing to facilitate the inspection and then they departed the premises for their own safety,” the AGCO said.
“Three patrons followed the [compliance officials] outside and to their cars all the while filming, berating and threatening them. At no time did staff intervene or attempt to diffuse the situation.”
Global News reached out to the Simmering Kettle restaurant for comment, but owner Shalu Persaud declined an interview and referred to the restaurant’s Facebook page, where she’s posted several videos on the situation.
“I just want to run my business,” Persaud said in a Facebook video Monday. “That’s the whole point of me doing this.”
On Wednesday, Persaud filmed two Barrie business licence officials who showed up at the Simmering Kettle to advise her that her business licence expired as of Feb. 2. In the video, one of the officials tells Persaud that she’s been charged for operating without a City of Barrie business licence.
In the video, Persaud tells the officers she’s operating under “common law” and that she doesn’t consent to a contract with the City of Barrie.
According to the AGCO, those who hold a licence to sell alcohol are responsible for meeting obligations under the Liquor Licence Act and acting with honesty and integrity. A licence holder must allow police officers or AGCO compliance officials acting out their duties to access the establishment.
The AGCO has issued a notice that it proposes to revoke the restaurant’s liquor licence due to infractions.
“People are not coming to my restaurant to have alcohol,” Persaud said. “That’s not what going out is about right now. People are going out because they want to see other people, they want to get back to life, they want to feel that life is normal, even just for a little while.”
In a video Tuesday, Persaud said the liquor licence suspension is a way to “hurt” her business and make her comply.
“To those people who find me offensive or think that I’m not a good person, I send you love and light,” Persaud said Tuesday. “I’m sorry you feel that way… I just know that this is what I’m supposed to do right now.”
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