A south-end Barrie restaurant — where a video was filmed Saturday showing patrons yelling at representatives from the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) — has now had its liquor licence suspended.
The video, which was posted to social media the same day and has since gone viral, shows two AGCO agents — a man and a woman — speaking with a Simmering Kettle employee who was behind the counter.
The audio recording doesn’t pick up what the female AGCO representative is saying before a male customer, who is not wearing a mask, interrupts her. The man from the AGCO informs the customer the agents were speaking to the employee, at which point the patron tells the two agents they are trespassing and orders them to leave.
Several voices originating from behind the male customer begin shouting for the two agents to "get out." They eventually leave after being told "they're not welcome here" and the group of people erupts into shouting at the agents.
So I took a drive to the simmering kettle in Barrie and enjoyed a great meal. While there, 2 agencies showed up to intimidate the crew. This is how we handled the second cowards that showed up. pic.twitter.com/IUiddrHosW— A Smith (@ASmith89058723) April 11, 2021
On Tuesday, the AGCO announced it had “issued an order of interim suspension of the liquor licence" at the Simmering Kettle "for reasons of public interest and safety.”
The interim suspension takes effect immediately at the Bryne Drive restaurant.
Simmering Kettle owner Shalu Persaud told BarrieToday that AGCO representatives were at the restaurant again today and had served her with the paperwork.
“What little bit he was saying, I think they’ve only suspended my licence and I have options, like I have to appear at a hearing and they will decide where they go from there,” Persaud said.
An AGCO news release also mentions video of the weekend incident that's circulating on social media.
“On April 10, AGCO compliance officials (COs) visited the licensed premises to conduct a follow-up inspection and speak with the licensee about the incidents," the release stated. "Upon entering the licensed premises, the COs noted that staff and patrons were not masked. Before they identified themselves, the COs were offered a table for dine-in.
"Once they identified themselves as AGCO COs, patrons gathered and demanded that the COs leave the premises because they 'were trespassing'," the release added. "The CO advised the staff member that they were failing to facilitate the inspection and then they departed the premises for their own safety.”
Persaud’s restaurant has stayed open despite a provincial shutdown order. On top of her notice of violation and $1,125 fine, the restaurant owner now must appear in court June 4 for continuing to breach the provincial order.
Persaud said she still gets her regular customers, but added she doesn't know half the people who come to her restaurant right now because they are coming from other parts of Ontario to support her stance in defying the provincial shutdown.
"We’ve had people from Windsor, Toronto, Caledon, everywhere, coming in to buy and support," she said. "Everyone is fed up with this and the whole world is ready for a change. This is about our freedom.
"This is not about serving food or serving alcohol," Persaud added. "It's about being able to breathe, and walk and talk when you feel like it and not when someone dictates it to you.”
During a media call earlier on Tuesday, prior to the AGCO announcing it had suspended Simmering Kettle's liquor licence, Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit medical officer of health Dr. Charles Gardner said the two inspectors were not from the health unit.
“There is an earlier video of health unit staff and dialogue with the owner directing them to close," he said. "Though we communicated with the owner with this direction and issued a Part 3 summons earlier, that was without conflict and without interaction with patrons.”
Gardner said the health unit is working with the City of Barrie and local police “with regards to next steps to seek closure.”
City of Barrie manager of enforcement services Tammy Banting told BarrieToday she couldn’t speak about specific cases, but said several inspections have been conducted by the city's bylaw enforcement officers, as well as other provincial agencies.
“The City of Barrie has issued charges under the Reopening Ontario Act, as have other agencies. This continues to be an ongoing investigation that all agencies are addressing,” Banting said in an email. “With respect to the fine structure, the issuance of Part I tickets in this case does not allow for an escalation of fines. However, if the matter is brought before the courts, the fines can be increased beyond $100,000.”
Persaud also posted a video on Simmering Kettle's Facebook page Monday night letting people know she had been asked to not participate in LocalLicious, a locally run initiative to promote restaurants in the area.
“I got a call (Monday) that the City of Barrie is throwing me out of LocalLicious," she said. "They don’t want me, because I’ve been bad, I guess. I’m not allowed to be in it."
Persaud continued by saying she was OK with the decision and asked for people to support the event.
However, a city official told BarrieToday “to our knowledge, no one from the city contacted them about removal from LocalLicious.”
Ryan Traversy, a representative from LocalLicious, confirmed Simmering Kettle has been removed from participating in the event. And while the event is meant to support restaurants, organizers say their hands are tied as shutdown rules must be followed.
“We’re on a grant from the province of Ontario to have this event and support local businesses,” said Traversy. “In the grant, it states that everyone needs to follow the current guidelines and rules. This is a takeout-only event because that’s the order we are all under and all restaurants have to play by the same rules.”
Persaud said the suspension of her liquor licence won’t deter her from staying open and she doesn’t believe it will affect her business.
“People aren’t coming here to drink alcohol. It's nice, but they like the food,” she said. “If we tell them we have ice cream, they’ll buy all the milkshakes they can."