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Lawsuit: Forest Lake's 'Mr. Large Burrito' leaves nasty Google reviews

A lawsuit alleges the owner of the well-reviewed Mr. Large Burrito is, himself, a prolific writer of Google reviews for other businesses.

A lawsuit alleges the owner of the well-reviewed Mr. Large Burrito is, himself, a prolific writer of Google reviews for other businesses. Facebook

Maybe Mr. Large Burrito isn't on your radar, but it's certainly on Google's.

Thanks to the search engine giant, the Forest Lake business—also home of the Mr. Large Burger and Mr. Large Gyro—has an astonishing online presence. Out of 2,195 (!) Google reviews, the vast majority give Mr. Large Burrito five stars.

And, as its menu dares, go ahead and Google "best burritos in Minnesota"—see if Mr. Large Burrito's website doesn't show up right near the top of your search results.

On the flip side, another Forest Lake restaurant, 3rd Gear Restaurant & Bar, recently had its reputation attacked online. One Google review said 3rd Gear's owner Eric Ernst "owes my daughter money never paid her," while another alleges Ernst "owes me $1,275 and he won't pay me after I was done he kicked me out."

That second adds, of Ernst: "He was drinking heavily and he was drunk."

Ernst says these complaints, written by "Samantha Denver" and "Johnny Devlin," respectively, aren't just bogus, but sabotage. In a lawsuit filed in December, Ernst says the reviews were left by none other than Mr. Large Burrito himself, Ayman "Mike" Tel.

Tel is also being sued by Miller & Stevens, a law firm he'd hired previously, which now accuses him of filing "false and libelous" Google reviews and offering to take them down for a price, the Pioneer Press reports

Attorney Vince Stevens said the law firm repeatedly received negative reviews after attempting to collect money Tel owed for legal services. According to Stevens, during a subsequent visit he made to Mr. Large Burrito for lunch, Tel told him he'd seen the negative reviews and could "remove them" from Google. 

Says Stevens: "It was an odd conversation to start while making a taco behind the glass."

Stevens says Google reviewer "Johnny Devlin" is a "fictitious person who does not exist," and says after he confronted Tel about it in November, another three dozen negative Google reviews about the law firm showed up in a matter of weeks.

Tel, for his part, denies any wrongdoing and has countersued, alleging Miller & Stevens has "an organized campaign against him, including posting negative reviews." Washington County sheriff's deputies seized Tel's computer and phone as evidence last week, though Tel told the Pioneer Press, "I'm not worried about that because there is nothing on there."