Winner of $150 Toronto Restaurant Raffle Turns Down His Winnings

Back in September we told you about a raffle in which restaurant owner Ruthie Cummings sold off her Danforth restaurant for $150 a ticket.

It seemed unbelievable, like a modern day start-up fairy-tale – the Willy Wonka golden ticket of gastro-pubs.

Well, as it turns out, it probably was a little too amazing to be true. According to raffle winner Shawn McKerness at least, who has subsequently turned down the prize.

The Windsor-based chef and restaurateur was chosen – not entirely randomly, skeptics might say, given his resume – in a draw, which selected him from the hundreds of hopefuls who had purchased a ticket.

After an interview with the Torstar News Service, McKerness said he forfeited his new restaurant after a lot of thought and discussion with his lawyer.

“It’s not viable being so far from home,” Shawn told Torstar. “It’s disappointing. It could have been an opportunity for the right person.”

Despite having only opened her “dream restaurant” two years prior to putting it up for auction on the Win a Restaurant website, former owner Ruthie said that she was regrettably forced to give up Das Gasthaus on Danforth Avenue due to her elderly parents’ ill-health and exhaustion.

However, what she didn’t say was that it was in arrears of $6,367 plus “costs” according to the bailiff’s note taped to the window of the eatery, which closed back in January.

Shawn McKerness says he did not sign any documents linking him to Das Gasthaus, and is not responsible for what happens to it.

Property manager Alex Stergiou told MetroNews that Cummings is technically in possession of the restaurant and therefore liable to pay rent. He is currently trying to claw back what he can and investigate if he is entitled to any of the money made from the raffle (it’s unclear how many people bought tickets).

Its liquor licence was also revoked on February 24, according to Alcohol and Gaming Commission spokesperson Eva Innes, meaning that anyone who takes it on as a restaurant would need to apply for a new licence upon opening.

This all proves once again that if something seems too good to be true, it probably is.