Canadians split on feelings about Tim Hortons purchase

FT. ERIE, ONT. (WIVB) – You can’t get more Canadian than Tim Hortons, which is named for a Hall of Fame hockey player and four out of every five Tim Hortons Cafe and Bake Shops are north of the border.

For many Canadians, Tim Hortons is a home grown symbol of national pride.

“It’s very Canadian. It’s one thing we have that’s ours,” boasts Nicholas Hayes of Fort Erie, Ontario. He was among a number of Canadians surveyed in Fort Erie, many of whom are a little wary of their favorite coffee shop being part of a new fast food “combo.”

“I’m not too sure I like the whole Burger King – Tim Hortons combo,” said Tiffany Backus of St. Catharines, Ontario.

Backus and many other Canadians are seeing the upside and the downside of their beloved Tim Hortons joining forces with Burger King. Landscaper Orlin Winger of Ft. Erie likes the $11 billion merger.

“It’s a fantastic idea. It will give people options. Good choice for meals.”

Amber Hardison of Ft. Erie is not as optimistic.

“I don’t like it at all. I like it separate. Coffee is coffee and burgers are burgers, and I think it would negatively affect Tim Hortons because it is a coffee place.”

While Burger King and Tim Hortons plan to keep separate operating companies, under one corporate umbrella based in Canada for tax purposes, some Canadians fear the pressure of turning a profit could change that.

“I think it might be good as long as they don’t combine foods, and try to make Tim Hortons burgers, or anything like that,” said Zeanka Morin of Crystal Beach. I don’t think Tim Hortons is a burger place; it’s a coffee place.”

Lisa Tupala of Fort Erie likes the deal.

“I think it is a win-win for both companies,” she said, though she admits liking the Burger King deal even better than Tim Hortons coffee, since her new favorite coffee is McDonald’s.

“Two reasons: honestly it tastes better, and it is cheaper.”

Canadians also have fond memories of Tim Hortons’ merger with Wendy’s, from 1995 to 2006, that created dozens of combination stores in Canada and the United States. Hayes likes the choices those combination stores give him.

“Either the Wendy’s or Tim Hortons, I could walk in there and be like, burger, or maybe a bagel and a coffee.”

Canadian customers also realize the new merged company can put Tim Hortons on a bigger map. But Backus knows the competition outside of Canada is going to be tough.

“I don’t know if they are going to be able to compete with the Starbucks, once you get further down. I know that the New Yorkers, they like their Starbucks, and they like their Dunkin’ Donuts.”

Ironically, reports from Wall Street show Tim Hortons might be a smaller chain, but “Timmy Ho’s,” as some Upstaters call it, turned a profit that is larger than Burger King and Dunkin’ Donuts combined.

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