Is a burrito a wrap?
That question might sound like the sort of trivial matter that occasionally paralyzes the internet, but its answer actually has significant bearing on the future of a New Hamburg plaza.
A Pita Pit franchisee signed a lease to operate in the Waterloo Street plaza in 2014. The lease includes a clause giving it exclusive rights to sell “pitas and wraps” out of the plaza. (The franchisee says this was a compromise after a request to be the sold fast-food operator was denied.)
The plaza was sold in 2016, and the new owners reached a deal with Holy Guacamole to open a location in the building. The space was renovated, and the restaurant expected to open Jan. 21.
The Pita Pit franchisee took the matter to court, arguing that Holy Guacamole’s tacos, burritos and quesadillas all constitute wraps because “they are prepared by taking savoury foods and wrapping them in a tortilla.”
The landlord argued that Holy Guacamole’s Mexican-inspired offerings should be considered distinct from pitas, citing a Wikipedia definition of pitas having Arabic origins.
Any definition that includes all foods wrapped in other foods, the landlord claimed, could also include haggis and panzerotti – two items sold by other restaurants in the plaza. (In fact, Pita Pit’s lease specifically bars it from selling panzerottis, along with alcohol, pizza, chicken wings and Italian sandwiches.)
Instead, the landlord argued, the language in the lease should be changed from giving Pita Pit exclusivity on “pitas and wraps” to giving it exclusivity on “pita wraps”.
Justice Elizabeth Sheard agreed with the Pita Pit franchisee, granting an injunction this week to keep Holy Guacamole from opening its doors.
“Based on its menu, wraps appear to be the focus of Holy Guacamole’s business,” Sheard wrote in her decision.
The Pita Pit franchisee now has 20 days to deliver a statement of claim, after which the plaza owner has 33 days to respond.
The landlord declined to comment for this story.
With reporting by Daryl Morris
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