After leaving its namesake state nearly 40 years ago, New York Fries made its return with the opening of its store in Roosevelt Field, a mall in Garden City, New York. Its time in Canada proved the concept has staying power, and its parent company, Recipe Restaurant Group, is confident in mirroring that success in the United States.
“It’s an interesting thing in Canada,” said Craig Burt, chief operating officer. “Fresh-cut fries are very common on roadsides and special events and things like that.”
Founded in 1983, New York Fries originally only featured no-fuss, hand-cut fries. As a successful snack brand, it caught the attention of Canadian entrepreneurs and brothers Jay and Hal Gould. The pair bought the brand after its first location in New York closed, making it a Canada-exclusive brand for years.
Now under Recipe Restaurant Group—which also owns The Keg, Elephant and Castle and more—New York Fries has more than 130 locations in Canada. Its menu has expanded over the last four decades, adding options such as poutine and hot dogs, but the core of it remains the same: hand-cut fries prepared to order.
The first new U.S. location experienced a strong launch, Burt said, and the hotdogs are a popular choice. The company plans to open three more locations before March.
“The concept has evolved into hot dogs and premium fries,” said Dave Colebrook, president and co-founder of Recipe Restaurant Group. “It’s in nearly every mall in Canada.”
New York Fries leaders considered returning to the U.S. for years. The question was where and when. Based on brand research, a return to New York was the best play. The pandemic created more real estate opportunity for the company as concepts moved out of malls and left gaps in food courts, Burt said.
Malls and high-foot-traffic areas are the ideal markets for New York Fries, Burt said. The brand, which can operate in a space as small as 250 square feet, is able to find success without taking up the space of a traditional restaurant. Burt said the brand is looking at airports, universities and outdoor malls, particularly in southern states, for further expansion.
The company’s “very focused” menu is a challenge for growth, Burt said. “It really doesn’t lend itself well to the street,” he said.
For now, growth is concentrated along the East Coast. New York Fries aims to open four total locations within the first quarter, with possibly a few more before Christmas, Burt said.
The total initial investment for a New York Fries is $406,500 to $651,000.
“The beauty of the concept is that it serves as both a meal location and a snack location,” said Colebrook. “We see aggressive growth for New York Fries.”