Junior the Wendy’s Guy Dies at 61


Updated, Monday, May 16: A suspect was charged with aggravated assault with a serious bodily injury in connection with Junior’s death. According to an affadavit, Nikolas Ray Eller, 38, punched Junior in the face during an argument on April 7, causing him to fall and hit his head on the pavement. The head injury led to his death on April 11.

Updated, Monday, April 18: There will be a celebration of Junior’s life at Teller’s on Sunday, April 24, from 1-4 p.m.

Ishmael Mohammed Jr.—better known to the UT community simply as Junior the Wendy’s Guy—died Monday, April 11, at age 61.

Junior worked the cash register in the Texas Union from 1998-2012. He was known across campus for the inimitable speed, pride, and humor with which he did his job—making students laugh as he rang up orders with comments like “Touchdown, baby,” “Let’s kick ass,” and “Junior puts the fast in fast food!” In 2005, he broke the world record for fast-food sales by taking 246 orders in 30 minutes.

In a documentary by Stephen Stephanian, BA ’07, Junior is shown on the day of his seventh anniversary at Wendy’s, in the middle of a successful bid to break his lunch-rush sales record of $1,000 in a half hour. He high-fives students and greets them by name, shouting, “Go on with your bad self. Welcome to the line of happiness and love!”

“To many people, it’s one of the most boring jobs in the world,” Junior says in the film. “But if you love your job, you can make it the best job you’ve ever had in your life … I try my best to make your day.”

Kimberly Guerin is Junior’s daughter. She says that her dad was just as generous and joyful at home as he was at work. “He was such a giving person,” Guerin says. “His life was all about helping other people and making them happier.”

According to Guerin, Junior was born in Trinidad and moved to New York City at a young age with his mother, a single parent. He owned several bodegas in New York before coming to Texas later in life. “I remember he’d throw parties for his employees and his family,” Guerin says. “He’d set up elaborate game shows, like Let’s Make a Deal, and have a can of soup or $500 behind a door. He was always helping people out.”

Junior’s other great love was cooking, she says. “His house always smelled like curry. He made the best curry I’ve ever had.”

He also fought a decades-long battle with alcoholism, and in 2014 the Longhorn community learned that Junior was unemployed and living on the streets. A campaign led by Benjamin McPhaul, BA ’11, raised more than $30,000 and helped him get an apartment. Guerin said her family is still grateful for the help. “I truly feel that it gave him two more years of life,” she says. “Unfortunately, his struggles caught up with him and he just wasn’t able to find his way back.” He is believed to have fallen and hit his head at a bus stop on Friday, an injury that led to his death three days later.

Guerin said she is now planning and raising funds for an event where Junior’s fans can celebrate his life. “Those students were his life,” she says. “He loved them and he loved that job.”

Photo by Trent Lesikar for the Daily Texan


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