Pic of mouse in doughnut shop allows Tim Horton’s to enter New York City – giv’r

Tim Hortons, which the N.Y. Times described yesterday as “a Canadian purveyor of doughnuts and coffee that has won a wide following,” is making a sudden entry into New York City, primarily because of a picture of a mouse.

Between Friday night and dawn on Monday, the Riese Organization intends to convert 13 Dunkin’ Donuts stores into the city’s first Tim Hortons restaurants, including early-morning, high-traffic shops like the one in Pennsylvania Station and another next to the New York Stock Exchange. The switch may surprise regular customers of the shops, said Dennis Riese, chief executive of the Riese Organization.

“You take down one sign and put up another. The biggest challenge will be to get New Yorkers to know what Tim Hortons is.”

Tim Hortons Inc. is a Canadian fast food restaurant known for its coffee and doughnuts, founded in 1964 in Hamilton, Ontario by Canadian hockey player Tim Horton. In 1967 Horton partnered with investor Ron Joyce, who quickly took over operations and expanded the chain into a multi-million dollar franchise. There are almost 3,000 Tim Hortons in Canada, and another 5-0 in the U.S. The chain accounted for 22.6 per cent of all fast food industry revenues in Canada in 2005. Canada has more per-capita ratio of doughnut shops than any other country.

Tim Horton was a bruising defenceman who won 4 Stanley Cups with the Toronto Maple Leafs in the 1960s. Born in 1930 in Cochrance, Ontario, Horton spent his formative years playing in mining communities surrounding Sudbury, Ontario. He got noticed by the Leafs organization and moved to Toronto when he was 17-years-old. He died in a car accident in 1974 after a 24-year National hockey League career.

Horton had a reputation for enveloping players who were fighting him in a crushing bear hug. Boston Bruins winger Derek Sanderson once bit Horton during a fight; years later, Horton’s widow, Lori, still wondered why. "Well," Sanderson replied, "I felt one rib go, and I felt another rib go, so I just had—to, well, get out of there!”

The Times reports that the arrival of Tim Hortons to N.Y. City comes after a decade of contention between Riese and Dunkin’ Donuts that peaked after The New York Post published a photo of a mouse munching on a doughnut in a shop operated by Riese on 46th Street at Fifth Avenue. The chain sued Riese, and the sides eventually agreed that the relationship would end this week in what Dunkin’ Donuts called a “disenfranchisement.”

In Canada, owning a Tim Hortons is like owning a license to print money.