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Twin Cities restaurant capitalizes on Randy Moss's criticism

NEWPORT, Minn. - The owners of a local restaurant are dishing back at ex- Minnesota Viking receiver Randy Moss after the NFL star dissed its food last week.

Tinucci's of Newport and Woodbury partnered with Twin Cities-based radio station ESPN 1500 to stage "Free Lunch, Homey" on Friday. As part of the promotion, the restaurant offered customers a chance to eat at a discount the same menu items its catering business served to the Vikings during a recent practice, the same practice during which Moss threw a fit over what the restaurant was serving.

Tinucci's co-owner Gus Tinucci said he was helping set up the lunch and a carving station for the players when Moss walked up, looked at the spread of chicken, ribs and beef and began using expletives while criticizing the food.

"All the other Vikings players appreciated it, like our food," Tinucci said. "But got one bad apple and he was on a mission to ruin the bunch."

Tinucci said the restaurant is not responsible for the leaked report of Moss's tirade against the caterer. But he said when a reporter called him to confirm the story "everyone kept calling for interviews."

The news garnered extra attention after the Vikings released Moss from the team this week four weeks after they had acquired him in a trade.

All the media attention Tinucci's received for Moss's criticism of its food led ESPN 1500 execs to approach Tinucci and ask if he would be willing to stage a "fun-based" promotion at his restaurant that makes light of Moss's brief return to the Vikings.

So during lunch Friday the Tinucci's in Newport was offering free meals to the first 50 people who show up and turn in their Randy Moss jerseys.

The jerseys will not be burned, Tinucci promised.

"We are going to ship them to the Boys and Girls Club of Nashville," he said. Moss was recently acquired by the Tennessee Titans after he was waived this week by the Vikings.

The restaurant will also offer its lunch special for $8.40, a play on Moss old Vikings jersey number "84."

Hank Long is a reporter at the Woodbury (Minn.) Bulletin, which is owned by Forum Communications Co.