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Re: “French Fry Heaven feels corporate through and through

I have to be honest, that was terrific writing! I write as an avocation myself and have nothing, but respect for the craft. I hope you don't mind my adding a couple of thoughts. First, we were born at a vegan festival, so we have stayed as true to our roots as is possible, serving a 95% vegetarian menu and gluten free fries and canola oil. Pretty sure we are GMO free too, but we are still studying that. We also spent years in developing our sauce and spice combination, tons that no sane person would ever have figured out, like our Cheezyburger which taste just like a burger, but use no beef or beef flavor. Incidentally, our fries don't have artificial ingredients either. I, like you, hate that. As too the frozen vs fresh cut discussion, yep, we had that talk too. We actually sat down with our mentor who own a Belgian fry stand in NY and got great guidance as to why frozen. First, in order to get a Belgian style fry, you have to double dip them. If they are fresh, they just saturate with oil and never turn crispy on the outside and soft on the inside (just soft/soft or crisp/crisp. Incidentally, from your comment about the soft fries at CS, sounds like one of the kids may have dropped the ball and only did the single fry, you’ll have to let us make that up to you. Next as every batch of potatoes is inconsistent, the result flavor is inconsistent. That drives customers crazy in her store. Next to last is the cost factor, cutting requires labor costs and waste, which either nails the customer or the owner; neither being a win. Last is as she said, it’s a red herring. Lots of people bought the “fresh cut" corporate tag line that big business rolled out there and truthfully in a single fry it does make a difference. However, when it comes to Belgian style there is zero flavor difference. I should point out that even if we did fresh cut and do our own 12 hour brine, we'd still freeze them to ensure we got that crisply on the outside, soft on the inside fries with light oil, rather than a limp oil bomb that gets dubbed "fresh."

As to the franchising part, yep, we think we have something pretty cool and we think we can make a lot of people money with the idea. You have to understand that a franchiser makes hardly anything off allowing someone to franchise and use all of their intellectual property, R&D, recipes and hard work. Franchisee don’t pay that much. As to my putting the word out about us offering our franchise at one of the lowest franchise fees in the industry, in order to grow, I have to do that. Business is not a sin, sinful business is a sin. We treat our franchisees as partners, we give them our stuff and effort non-stop and we make a living doing so. It’s fair, upfront and honest. Not a bad way to do business. The unfortunate thing about negative articles, is it really only injures the local franchisee who is a local business person trying to make their way. In this case, George is one of the most passionate sincere people on the planet and he puts in an amazing amount of work to keep his customers satisfied.
As to the social media, we do something that almost no one in any sized industry does, and that is we allow our local folks to have total access to their social media. When you write them, they write back, not me. They can and do, George and his team from Colorado Springs are some of the best at it, post the most important pictures that go up there, that of their Happy Souls. I did start posting some of my own stuff too about a month ago, but I think that is good for some brand continuity. If you’ve noticed I post a business thing less than twice a month. I don’t think that is unreasonable. We also do post some of our in house graphics and fry pics, but we are proud of the work we put in there and think it’s some really neat stuff.

As my next to last point, I think you can look at your writing and my French Fry Heaven very similarly. You can start out writing a blog on a site for which you are proud, which becomes popular and picked up by other sites, which gets picked up by magazines or newspapers who pay you for the right to reprint. If I am in your shoes, I feel pretty good about the popularity of my idea and am pretty comfortable in the value of it that people are paying me for. I feel the same about French Fry Heaven. When I was traveling from town to town in my van selling our fries at festivals and fairs I was pretty darn excited when it turned people on. Are fries the healthiest thing on the planet? Eh. But we do everything we can with ours to make them so and after all they are a fun indulgence. Why got out for gourmet fries, when you can stay at home and make normal fries at home? Why go out for a burger, pizza, fish taco, cheese sandwich, sub, steak, beer or anything else?

As my last point, if you go to our site, check out our mission, actually talk to anyone here or in charge of that store you are going to discover that French Fry Heaven has a cornerstone of charitable service. If a perspective franchisee is not into it, we don’t bring them on. If a perspective Taste Bud doesn’t have it as a background, they are not hired. It is written in stone and we do not deviate from that. We had the opportunity to open in the West years ago and the guy offered our little business almost $1M in franchise fees on the agreement that we strike the charitable service obligation from our agreement; we turned him down. Now we sure could have used a million bucks, that’s for sure, but this is in our heart. So you know, our franchisees can’t just scratch some corporate check and call that charitable service. The only thing that is counted towards their charitable expectation is the donation of time and food. They choose the local charity, they do the work and it is expressly written in the documentation that they should do everything possible to take no credit. Do you know another company that states that as a mantra? Do they right thing and take no credit?

I will say that the one thing I really came away with from your article and some of the comments it attracted, is that the criticisms and concerns were fairly laid out, which tell me a lot about your character and the kind of people who read your work. I am going to call on that sense of fairness and ask you and all of your commenters to contact me personally at fran@ffheaven.com to set up a time for you to give us a second or first go around, make sure the team is hitting on all cylinders, to come in for a full sampling of all of our fries, on our dime. I appreciate everyone’s willingness to invest their time and writing to point out where we may have dropped the ball and I hope that you will extend that willingness to giving us a fair chance to get it right.

Regardless, thanks for taking the time to look into French Fry Heaven and keep on writing; you’ve got style!

French Fry Heaven
(The fg stands for Fry Guru)

5 likes, 30 dislikes
Posted by FG on 10/03/2014 at 9:17 AM

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