CINCINNATI — Lovers of the humble potato rejoice! A new eatery is bringing French Fry Heaven to earth with its grand opening in Corryville on Thursday.
French Fry Heaven, which promises the “Best Spuds on Earth,” will serve nearly 30 variations of the starchy vegetable for tasting when its doors open at 6 p.m. at 206 Calhoun St. Customers will be able to further spice up menu selections with 16 seasonings and dipping sauces.
“There is literally a near infinite number of combinations,” said French Fry Heaven owner Scott Nelowet. People also can top their fries with hamburger, turkey, chicken fingers, bruschetta, cheese or bacon, all of which are cooked fresh in house daily.
Nelowet, a former academic, said he came up with his restaurant concept more than five years ago while on a European vacation with his wife.
“They had these fry stands everywhere,” he said.
When he returned home, Nelowet set up his own french fry stand at a food festival in Florida. He said he knew he was onto something when his novice stand outsold more established food venues. Eventually, he quit his day job and, by 2011, opened a couple of french fry-centric stores. He started out selling his creations in “snackable” portions and found that model limited his future options for brick-and-mortar eateries.
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“If we do just a snack, we have to do shopping malls,” Nelowet said.
That was not what the restaurateur wanted, though; he wanted to serve full meals made with fresh ingredients and french fries as the base to large crowds of people.
“I think that’s what is fun about fries,” he said. “It’s a communal food.”
Nelowet’s desire for a full-blown, fast-serve restaurant is what led him to his current store near the University of Cincinnati and three area hospitals. He recruited experts from the Texas-based Wing Stop chicken franchise to design the kitchen and seating for the prototype store in Corryville. Nelowet then tapped former Jimmy John's sandwich chain CEO Gregg Majewski to run his business as president.
“We wanted to make a unique meal experience,” Majewski said. That experience involves freshly made cheese and other sauces, along with brining the french fries for 12 hours before cooking.
Nelowet and Majewski also put baked potatoes and vegetarian options on the menu for healthy dining options. Starting in two to three months, French Fry Heaven will begin delivering its full menu within a 3- to 4-minute drive radius, Majewski said.
Nelowet and Majewski said they are currently scouting a second French Fry Heaven location in Oxford, Ohio near Miami University.
Nelowet also offered the following advice for first-time visitors to French Fry Heaven.
“In my book, the chicken Parmesan fries with cheese sauce and the black truffle sea salt is the best," he said. "It’s just a big pile of happiness.”