An anthropomorphized french fry container complete with cartoonish white gloves and big blue sneakers is the memorable mascot of a new eatery in Arroyo Grande.
“We have not named him yet,” said Joe Lassiter, the owner and founder of French Fries. This aptly named dining spot specializes in burgers, corn dogs, chicken strips, and, most importantly, its own namesake.
“I’m a big guy on fries. I mean, it’s half the food,” said Lassiter, who opened the casual eatery on East Grand Avenue in February.
When customers approach the restaurant’s front counter, they’ll find a list of 10 different french fry styles to choose from: shoestring, crinkle, wedge, sidewinder, waffle, curly, seashore, steak, sweet potato, and tater tots.
There are also dozens of topping options to pick from—including chili, pulled pork, carne asada, cheese curds, poutine gravy, bacon, guacamole, nacho cheese, and much more.
Patrons can customize their own combinations of fries and toppings or order from a handful of preset signature french fry assortments. Similarly, there’s a preset burger to order, or customers can opt to build their own.
From the beginning, Lassiter’s top priority in bringing French Fries to fruition was to serve a need that he found lacking in his own community, he said.
“I wanted the pricing to be fair. I don’t want to go out to lunch and get a burger and fries and have it cost 22 bucks. It happens multiple times at multiple places. It kills me,” Lassiter said. “I should be able to get a burger, fries, and a soda for like 10, 11 bucks.”
Another focus Lassiter aimed to emphasize at French Fries was a made-to-order approach.
“Everything is cooked to order. It’s not just sitting back there on a warmer,” said Lassiter, who added that he can’t stand going to burger places where the fries are lukewarm or soggy by the time his order gets to him.
“I opened this place out of spite because I want a fair-priced hamburger and crispy goddamn french fries when I order them,” said Lassiter.
Lassiter prefers quality over speed when it comes to getting orders out, but French Fries is still relatively fast compared to similar kinds of eateries.
“Even now when we’re jam-packed, I think the longest ticket’s nine to 12 minutes,” said Lassiter who added that lines were out the door during the restaurant’s opening weekend, which resulted in 55-minute waits for some guests.
Due to the eatery’s success so far over the past few months, Lassiter has plans to expand the space by taking over a vacant building next door.
“We’re knocking down this wall here,” the restaurateur said, while pointing to the wall at the right of the restaurant, where a small mural of the french fry mascot—who Lassiter has unofficially nicknamed Fry Guy—currently rests.
Once that wall comes down and some interior renovations are complete, the neighboring space will be home to French Fries’ upcoming family amusement center with arcade games and more seating for on-site dining.
“I’m trying to cater to the younger crowd as far as the gaming goes,” said Lassiter, who revealed that the arcade will include air hockey, racing games, and more. “We want to incorporate more of a family atmosphere here, and I’ve always wanted to own some kind of family entertainment center.”
Lassiter, who also owns California Diesel and RV in Oceano, said that between the 10 types of french fry styles currently offered at French Fries, it’s hard to pick a favorite.
“But gun to my head, I’d probably go steak or seashore,” said the local business owner, who personally likes to pair his fries with a single-patty burger.
Arts Editor Caleb Wiseblood is a big fan of shoestring fries and tater tots. Send comments to [email protected].