Faith, hope, charity and dueling mozza burgers

"Only a dufus or a lawyer could confuse a Jerry's Bacon Mozza Burger with an A&W Mozza Burger…To the famous A&W burger family, we can now add the Bully Burger. Do as it says, or else."

The National Post
December 28, 2001

Faith, hope, charity and dueling mozza burgers
Les Perereaux

WINNIPEG - In fitting themes for the holiday season, tales of charity and benevolence, greed and intolerance are battling like the ghosts of Christmas for the public conscience.

Two dramatic lottery wins, one illustrating avarice, the other harmony, began the holiday season.

Both cases involved large jackpots and, by some twist of fate, Philippine-born labourers. The similarities end there.

Recently 10 workers at Winnipeg's only Filipino restaurant won $19.9-million in a Super 7 draw that was the largest in the history of Western Canada. Without a written contract or even a handshake, the workers, who range from the 71-year-old owner to a 22-year-old busboy, have already agreed to divide the winnings among the 10 people who chipped in $2 each to buy tickets.

Two days after the draw at the aptly named Aristocrat Restaurant, diners enjoyed the rare pleasure of being served their scrumptious jumbo sardines and spring rolls by a staff of millionaires.

The win came immediately after another lottery win made headlines in the city. A trial ended in the case of Cora Macatula, a home-care worker who is suing her elderly former home-care client, Jean Tessier, for half of an $11.4-million draw last year. Justice Sidney Schwartz is expected to decide early in the new year how the winnings should be split.

Ms. Macatula bought the winning ticket and claims she had an agreement with Ms. Tessier to split the winnings. Ms. Tessier's son claimed the jackpot for his own, saying he lied about who won the jackpot to protect his mother. Judge Schwartz said the case was tainted by both sides through the pack of lies they have told to bolster their cases and deny the other side.

Winnipeg Free Press columnist Lindor Reynolds said the judge will need "the Judgment of Schwartz" to sift through the miasma.

Meanwhile Ms. Tessier, 76, "is living proof that money can't buy you happiness. For every person who has ever spent a buck on a Quick Pick and dreamed their ship will come in, there's the cautionary tale of a frail old lady who, from outward appearance and court testimony, has been made miserable by her win," she wrote.

Ms. Reynolds noted that Ms. Tessier thought she was going to die from the stress after she discovered her win. She broke into a cold sweat, exacerbating a heart condition that requires her to take 28 pills each day. She still lives in her 12-foot by 20-foot apartment in a seniors' complex after she gave away her share of the jackpot to her children. "No trip to Hawaii, no mansion and no fabulous wardrobe for Jean Tessier," Ms. Reynolds wrote.

In the purest act of charity in months, Randall Moffat, an early-retired local media magnate in Winnipeg, donated $100-million to the Winnipeg Foundation. According to estimates the donation, one of the largest seen in Canada, represents about 20% of the family fortune.

"Manitobans are a charitable bunch," extolled an editorial in the Winnipeg Free Press, citing federal statistics. " … the Moffat family [has] polished that image."

Les MacPherson, a columnist with the Saskatoon StarPhoenix, criticized A&W Canada for a less-than-generous approach to the local owner of a hamburger shop. The fast-food giant has twice threatened to sue Jerry's Food Emporium for trademark infringement.

First, Jerry Kristian, the restaurant owner, was threatened for his Jerry's Bacon Mozza Burger, which A&W claimed was too close to its Mozza Burger. Mr. Kristian held a contest and renamed his burger the Mozzatrocity. Soon afterward, another letter from A&W arrived. This time, the company claimed, Jerry's Mushroom Mozza Melt was too close to the A&W Mozza Burger.

"Only a dufus or a lawyer could confuse a Jerry's Bacon Mozza Burger with an A&W Mozza Burger. For starters, the Jerry's Bacon Mozza Burger is only available at Jerry's, while A&W Mozza Burgers are exclusive to the A&W. There are big, flashing neon signs over the respective establishments that make confusion all but impossible," Mr. MacPherson concluded.

"To the famous A&W burger family, we can now add the Bully Burger. Do as it says, or else."

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