#Hashtag as Hype: Fast-Casual Chain Fries Up Marketing Concept
2 Min Read By Barbara Castiglia
It’s a generational thing.
For some of us, # is referred to as the pound sign, while those on the younger end of the spectrum recognize it as hashtag. The symbol has become such a part of today’s mainstream mindset that owners of one fast-casual franchise incorporated it into the brand’s name. #getfried, a new concept with two storefronts in Western New York offering customizable French fries, hopes to promote social media engagement and connect with customers by speaking their language.
Founders Chris Covelli and Garrett Green plan to target locations with high presence of millennials such as college campuses for franchises.
“# is part of everyday life for millennials and it’s not going away as social media grows,” said Covelli. “We thought no brand has it yet and it’s got to stand out in a food court environment and help us build the brand.”
The idea for #getfried was sparked while Covelli was traveling for business. He noticed fries were considered more than a side dish in other parts of the world. He thought a restaurant concept with gourmet fries would attract widespread appeal in the United States even if it seems in opposition to the clean eating trend.
“It struck a chord and was a unique model that goes against the grain and is a bit rebellious,” said Covelli. “People love indulging in food and they’re going to do it. We take pride in providing high-quality ingredients so people can feel better about spoiling themselves.”
He also felt that providing guests with a way to customize their own unique fry creations would attract those with a creative bent. Guests can choose between five styles of fries and more than 20 sauces, seasonings and toppings. Fries can be topped with pulled pork, shredded chicken, ground beef or chili, Toppings include chipotle seasoning, gravy, Nutella, hummus and truffle oil.
Launched in February 2015 in Buffalo’s Walden Galleria Mall. a second corporate store opened in December 2015 in the Fashion Outlet Mall in Niagara Falls. Green’s venture company, Green & Co. Holdings, a private firm which focuses on investments and consulting for consumer brands, partnered with Covelli to design, develop and launch the brand.
The total initial investment to open a franchise is approximately $100,000, Covelli told MRM, and locations are typically less than 500 square-feet with a quick turnaround time for grand openings. #getfried locations utilize concession, walk-up and sit-down cafe formatted stores for the lunch, evening and late-night consumers throughout malls, college towns, sports arenas, casinos, airports, gas stations, movie theaters and downtown urban entertainment districts.