With all of the hype about burger and hot dog joints around the city (with more to come), culinary entrepreneur Don Warfe (of Just Pasta fame) has set about to open a new eatery that ties into this growing trend. Don is hedging his bet that Buffalo can become the next fry town. He is setting out to establish the first of a series of “Just Fries” eateries in Buffalo, and is anticipating that his new (and different) fry formula will take off to other cities in the near future. So what makes Don think that people will clamor to his fry shop, when there are plenty of other places around serving them up? Don’s fries are “air-fried, with 40% less fat and 30% less calories, making a “guiltless” treat for yourself and your family.” Guiltless fries? Huh?
Our local fry master has been working on this guilt-free fry concept for one year. Now he’s opening up the first fry shop at 9 Genesee Street in Downtown Buffalo, across from M&T Bank (Carmina owned – gray building). Soon customers will be able to walk in, order fries, add some toppings, and not feel glutinous in the process.
Don attributes the unusual nature of the Just Fries fry to German technology that allows the fry to be “hot air fried” which means that the fries contain less oil, less fat, and less calories than the traditional American classic. At the same time, the new version of the fry still has all of the flavor of the standard version. Soon Buffalonians will be able to try out the new and improved French fry and taste the quality for themselves. I asked Don how he came up with the concept and this is what he had to say…
“I was working at the Solar Café for Collegiate Village a couple years ago – a café for college students. College kids have no money. So someone suggested to do a poutine, which I did, but that got boring. Then I decided to make Buffalo and chicken versions, and the students loved it. I began thinking about what other ideas I could add. Eventually my contract with Collegiate Village expired and I decided that I wanted to take the concept further. But I didn’t want to do something that would contribute to making Americans any fatter. I was in Chicago for a convention and I came across this new system of cooking fries. It’s like part convection oven and part steamer. All it takes is one tablespoon of oil, and there is no deep fryer needed. I began to do more research on the best fries. A great French fry is always cooked twice. By taking a frozen fry and cooking it a second time without a deep fryer, I realized that these types of fries could be prepared anywhere! Our space is only 300 square feet but perfectly sized for what we do. There is no big hood or Ansul system. Our concept gives us a niche in the market, without creating an entire cooking facility. That makes it easy to set up franchise locations. These will be perfect for major hub airports, sports arenas, Canalside, etc. There will be cheese steak fries in Phili and Po Boy fries in New Orleans. It’s amazing how great they taste without the hassle of deep fryers. The fries are moist on the inside and crispy on the outside. Steve Carmina loved the concept, and felt that we would be a good fit for his building on Genesee (Roosevelt Plaza). We’ve been waiting to get it up and running, and I want to be open before New Year’s. It’s a natural fit for the area. Actually, in a funny way, it’s a play on pasta (think Just Pasta). By making the French fry the mainstay of the dish, there are endless possibilities when it comes to adding ingredients. By taking away the deep fried aspect of the fry, it’s a real game changer.”