In today's restaurant world, whether it's quick service or full service, operators are finding new ways to present and flavor fries, and customers are eating them up. Fans of America's favorite potato side dish also are willing to pay a premium for the extra added tastes.
"There is tremendous opportunity for fries, comparable to coffee a few years ago," said Chuck Hamburg, foodservice consultant with Creative Hospitality Associates and a professor of hospitality management at Roosevelt University in Chicago. "Fries used to be all the same, but since restaurants started to go upscale and hand-cut the potatoes, leave the skins on and other things, they have become a mandatory addition to all the new burger concepts."
"Most of the better restaurants are serving them in unique ways, with different salts and cooking oils…it seems to be the one food that people allow themselves to indulge in," he noted.
Throughout the United States, concepts ranging from the growing 46-unit fast-casual Smashburger to single-unit full-service independent dinner houses like Blue Duck Tavern in Washington, D.C. are selling upscaled versions of fries. Some continue the tradition of offering fries with burgers and other sandwiches at no extra charge, but menus increasingly market special fries a la carte or for an upcharge if purchased as an accompaniment.