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Should I Be Making My Fries With Fresh Potatoes

Q:

I’ve owned and operated several restaurants and now am opening a gourmet fresh burger place. Should I be making my fries from fresh potatoes?

A:

Just a couple of weeks ago I was reminded of the advice I gave a restaurateur in Chicago about making fries from scratch. Almost always I tell them “Are you sure you want to do that?” Doing some things incredibly well can be a much more successful menu and product strategy, but it takes an inordinate amount of effort to make good tasting crisp golden fresh cut fries year round. Even the chains that started out that way usually get to about 50-100 units and start buying frozen fries. The exceptions to this really do try and figure out, “how can I make this a signature item” AND “what do I need to watch for or know to get it right, order after order”?

The founder of Five Guys Burgers & Fries has made a point of resisting franchisees when it comes to selling fresh made milk shakes and malts. He wants reviewers to play up how great the fries and burgers are and feels that adding another homemade item could stretch the capacity to do the other items well. His theory is that adding menu items just to match the competition becomes an innovation for innovation sake, and that often comes with such velocity and frequency as to confuse the customer as well as stretch the capacity to do a few things in a way that exceeds expectations.

If I haven’t dissuaded you yet…We have several tips at Ask Dr. Potato or All Things French Fried Potatoes.

Nothing like fresh made Idaho French fries… but can you be consistent at it? Frozen fries are very consistent year round, and an inexpensive food cost versus labor value. Will you be able to charge more to make up for the extra labor of doing fries from whole Idaho® russet potatoes? It’s not a simple task.