"The Lebanese Burger Mafia" is a documentary that shares how 26 Burger Barons restaurants (now only 25, one in Carstairs) in Alberta came to be and the history behind them.

Although they were all called Burger Baron and were all owned by Lebanese families they have nothing to do with each other.

Albertan Omar Mouallem, the creator of the documentary, stated this type of story is truly one of a kind.

"They had different menus, a lot of them had different logos. Some of them even kind of had different names, like little flourishes on them. But what they did have in common, aside from the famous Alberta mushroom burger, is that every owner was a Lebanese immigrant."

Mouallem has his history with a Burger Baron. His parents used to own one themselves (Mouallem's brother now owns it). That's where the idea of the documentary came about.

"It did not start as this open-source franchise, it was once a legitimate fast food chain. But, then somewhere along the way, it went rogue."

omar Some of the many variations of the Burger Baron mascot that different Burger Barons use. Photo supplied by Omar Mouallem.

According to Mouallem, the reason there were so many of them (Burger Barons) is because there were a lot of refugees that came to Alberta from the Lebanese civil war. They would learn the trade of how to run a Burger Baron and then go out and make their own.

"There were multiple attempts to rein it in and unify the Burger Baron but all of them went off the rails."

The original owner and creator of Burger Baron, before it was sold, was Irish-American businessman Jack McDonnell. He opened one of the first Burger Baron locations, which happened to be in Calgary.

"There have also been multiple attempts to reclaim the trademark, the intellectual property by the original family."

One of the many Burger Barons is located in Carstairs. Mouallem did have the chance to go and talk with the owners about their business.

"What I love about it, is that it's run now by the second generation, these three siblings."

According to Mouallem, the restaurant itself is very old school, like a classic 1950s fast food joint.

"One of the things I love about it is the daughter of the founders of that location is vegan, so she's introduced all these vegan options at the restaurant."

OmarFilmmaker Omar Mouallem at Burger Baron in Edmonton, photo taken by Amber Bracken.

The film itself has been playing at select screenings, most recently at the Calgary International Film Festival back on September 23. 

"It's played in the Netherlands and it will be playing in Ireland soon."

"The Lebanese Burger Mafia" made its world premiere at Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival in Toronto, it had two shows and sold out both.

It has also made its way to Edmonton a couple of times, once for the Northwest International Documentary Festival and won the Audience Choice Award for Best Documentary.

The film will be making it to theatres in select cities across Canada, the official opening weekend is November the 10th. If you are interested in seeing it and if it's coming close to a city near you, click HERE.

When asked if he was to make another documentary like this and what it would be on, Mouallem stated he would like to find out why there are so many shwarma restaurants in Alberta.

In response to Canada's Online News Act and Meta (Facebook and Instagram) removing access to local news from their platforms, DiscoverAirdrie encourages you to get your news directly from your trusted source by bookmarking this page and downloading the DiscoverAirdrie app

Send your news tips, story ideas, pictures, and videos to news@discoverairdrie.com. You can also message and follow us on Twitter: @AIR1061FM