Covid-19 Resources | Food Trends

Al Fresco Fries: Choosing the Right Fry for New Outdoor Seating

Jun 08, 2020

Al Fresco Dining

 

While many cities are mandating lower indoor seating capacity inside restaurants thanks to COVID-19, many are also allowing operators to add new seating areas outside—on the sidewalk, on a closed street or even an adjacent park. 

 

This is certainly welcome news. But serving hot, crispy fries—the most profitable food item on your menu—can be daunting in al fresco dining scenarios. 

Outdoor dining is a different animal

The fries you’ve been serving indoors in normal times may not hold up well under the additional demands of outdoor service and delivery delays.

Time to the table: Most fries are cooked to order and taken to the table within a minute or two after emerging from the fryer. The farther the table (like tables out in the middle of a closed street), the less time there will be for patrons to enjoy hot, crisp fries before they go cold and lose their flavor.

Exposure to the elements:  Fries outside can also be exposed to wind, changes in temperature and other conditions that they never see inside your dining room. Again, this can degrade their temperature, flavor and crispness sooner than indoors, at a time of year when patrons may wish to linger over their meal and enjoy the summer weather.

Do these challenges sound familiar?

The issues of fries and al fresco dining hold a lot in common with those of delivery and takeout:  there’s a delay between the fryer and the customer, along with “atmospheric conditions” that are out of your control.

Fortunately, a lot of work has been done to identify (and create) fries that perform well for delivery and takeout, and those same fries will also work wonders in al fresco dining situations.

What characteristics make a good fry for al fresco dining?

The fries that do well in outside dining typically share one or more of the following qualities:

They’re thicker. Compared to a thin cut like a shoestring fry, thicker cuts (wedges, steak fries, SIDEWINDERS™ Fries) hold their heat longer after cooking. Our recommendations:


They’re battered or coated.
 These coatings ensure the fries stay crisp and don’t go soggy even after they cool. Seasoned batters continue to taste really good after they cool as well. And batters and coatings help retain heat longer. Our recommendations:

They’re a different cut altogether. Sometimes the best answer isn’t a conventional fry. How about a potato chip you can fry in advance and serve crisp at “room” temperature without the customer batting an eye?  Our recommendations:

Find the fry that works for you

Every operator will have their own requirements, depending on seating arrangements, menu theme and other parameters. The good news is Simplot has a huge range of choices well-suited to al fresco dining.  And because these same fries work well for delivery and takeout too, you can potentially serve all of these patrons with a single fry, simplifying your kitchen operations.  

Request FREE samples today and see for yourself!