US Fries takes potato staple from side dish to main meal

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Ian Martella | The Daily Wildcat

Construction makes their finishing touches to US Fries’ amenities before its grand opening this Friday, Sept. 12th. The new eatery runs its business completely paperless to instill an eco-friendly mentality.

French fries have never been thought of as a meal without the burger, but a new franchise on Fourth Avenue is breaking the rules with how we think of the starchy sidekick.

US Fries makes its debut this Friday with its unique poutine menu — a French-Canadian late-night delicacy that consists of fries traditionally topped with cheese curds and gravy.

However, US Fries’ menu is anything but traditional. With items such as Bacon Cheeseburger Fries, Nacho Grande Fries and Philly Cheesesteak Fries, the range of options caters to nearly every fries niche imaginable.

“We try to match local cuisines in every specific region,” said owner Thomas Jones, who recently moved from Alberta, Canada, to start his fast food franchise. “We’re looking at the demographic with college kids and bars.”

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Jones detailed his selection process that lead him to Tucson.

With Tucson’s relatively affordable commercial space and Fourth Avenue’s proximity to downtown and the university area, the location is perfect for a start-up franchise like US Fries.

According to an Arizona Daily Star article, Jones’ investors are involved with many Canadian fast food chains, such as Boston Pizza and Tim Hortons, a donut-and-coffee franchise.

“They’re not a franchise,” said Kurt Tallis from the Fourth Avenue Merchant’s Association. While this currently may be true with US Fries’ single location, Jones stated other intentions in an interview earlier in May with Tucson Weekly.

“I have always wanted to start a national brand,” Jones said to Tucson Weekly’s Henry Barajas. Jones reportedly plans on expanding up to 15 locations throughout the US, starting his second enterprise in Austin, Texas.

Though poutine pandemonium seems to be only recently sweeping the nation, Tucson’s own Québécoise Zany Beaver has been serving poutine locally since last July, operating out of a food truck in varying locations.

Maynards Market & Kitchen, located on N. Toole Ave., also serves poutine made with local ingredients as one of its many fine dishes.

“We’re using US Foods, the big food supply company,” Jones said.

Fourth Avenue, it is safe to say, gives Tucson much of its character. One could even call it a defining factor of Tucson’s structure as an independent, alternative, locally-sustained city. From the two solar operated businesses, Brooklyn Pizza Company and Sky Bar, to the local, organic Food Conspiracy Co-op, Fourth Avenue is steadily making its way into the eco-friendly business model that a safe, sustainable future demands.

US Fries has an opportunity to fit that description by participating in local, organic food systems and respecting the grounds of smaller local organizations like Zany Beaver. The company is already on its way, as its operation is completely electronic.

“Every single thing we do is paperless,” Jones said.
The meat and dairy industry is responsible for numerous global atrocities like deforestation, soil erosion and wildlife destruction, all on massive scales, according to Mino Valley Farm Sanctuary co-founder Abigail Geer. If businesses like US Fries incorporated local food systems into their menus, we might just be able to make a dent in some of the issues at hand.

Here’s hoping big business is listening.

—Follow Ian Martella @DailyWildcat


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