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Turning fries into a more powerful sales and traffic driver

Photograph: Shutterstock

French fries are a menu staple: They’re a popular appetizer and a quintessential side dish and are eaten as a snack, too. Some restaurants even offer specialty fries to entice diners even more. In fact, nearly half (47.6%) of operators have fries on the menu, according to Ignite menu data.

Many of those operators recognize the potential of adding ingredients and value to this popular item, too. Loaded fries are one of the fastest-growing fry dishes, with mentions of them on menus up 5.4% over the past year, according to Technomic.

While ketchup may be the best-known partner for fries, other flavors pair perfectly with them. Barbecue and ranch are commonly offered sauces and, according to Technomic, some of the fastest-growing flavors and ingredients paired with fries include feta, sour cream, Buffalo sauce, mozzarella, truffle, onion and more.

As diners experiment with different flavor combinations with fries, they still demand quality as well as great taste and natural ingredients in their food. Technomic’s 2018 Healthy Eating Consumer Trend Report finds that 74% of consumers are more inclined to order food described as natural, which presents another area of opportunity for operators.

Offering fries that combine quality ingredients with interesting flavors are a way to distinguish a menu and, along the way, have fun creating inventive pairings.

One foundation for such creativity is Simplot® Select Recipe fries, made with skin-on, potatoes brined with natural sea salt for consistent flavor, perfect as a stand-alone fry or as a base for a range of toppings and seasonings.

Operators can enhance fries with a number of ingredients and toppings to attract variety-seeking consumers as well as increase their own profitability. Simply adding real rosemary and cracked pepper to fries ups the flavor for the diner. Kitchen staff can also create salt and vinegar fries by tossing the fries with malt vinegar powder and sea salt.

Another enticing option is a shore-style fry, with fries tossed in a mixture of minced garlic, butter and parsley. These pair well with a variety of proteins, from seafood to burgers, and can be on the menu as a side or an appetizer. According to Technomic’s 2019 Burger Consumer Trend Report, 82% of consumers say they would consider ordering a side of fries with a burger, so it can be beneficial to offer these specialty toppings (with an upcharge, of course) as add-ons for burger sides.

Loaded fries, another dish that can be shared with a group or enjoyed as an appetizer, invite all kinds of possibilities for toppings, including pulled pork and cheddar sauce for BBQ fries, clam chowder for Shore-style fries or gyro meat and tzatziki sauce for Greek fries, just to name a few.

By adding fresh ingredients and innovative toppings to a great fry base, operators have the opportunity to cash in with fries. Even by charging just an extra dollar or two for toppings such as Parmesan cheese and truffle oil or salt and vinegar, restaurants can see a big revenue boost.

This post is sponsored by Simplot

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