Interview

Getting Friskie

How a couple of guys turned their French fry food truck into a downcity sensation

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Tom Wright and Randy D’Antuono sure know their way around a French fry. In just a few short years, the owners of Friskie Fries have capitalized on the traditional side dish, selling over 500 tons of fries since its inception in 2012. Wright and D’Antuono have built a fried empire that has expanded from its original location – a food truck and cinderblock shop in Johnston – to a coveted corner storefront in downtown Providence. We caught up with the fry masters at their downtown location to talk about Friskie Fries’ growing success.

How did you come up with the concept?
RD: We were on a friends’ vacation to Amsterdam and were at a pub having a few beers and listening to music, and we grabbed a bar napkin and began planning.
TW: We were eating French fries, too. Fries are really big in Amsterdam. We were eating at a place called “Mr. Tom’s French Fries.”
RD: The fries were delicious and we knew we needed something to add [to the fries] and immediately started saying, “I need chicken, I need hot dogs.” As cliché as it is, it started on a bar napkin where we put down ideas and recipes we wanted to try.

Where did the name “Friskie Fries” come from?
TW:
It’s fun and quirky.
RD: It’s full of innuendos, too. Our menu has many connotations like “dressed” and “naked” fries as well as names like “Fowl Play” and “Cat’l Call.”

What inspired the menu?
TW:
It was a combination of both wanting to create meals on fries and combining things we liked. We started with our protein toppings and built up from there.
RD: My partner is obsessed with buffalo chicken, so that inspired our buffalo chicken fries. We all had our two cents of what we wanted, so we put our ideas into different recipes. The ingredient variation and the quality of the ingredients that we have is really what makes the perfect fry.
TW: It took us a year to do test kitchens and
different cooking methods to see how the fries were going to hold up and stay crispy with so many toppings.

You’ve turned a side dish into a successful business. Do you want to eventually expand the menu?
RD:
Our menu works for us and there’s something for everyone, so that won’t change.
TW: We do specials based on seasonality, so I think we’ve covered our bases. We have savory-sweet combinations that we’ve added since opening.
RD: You can “modi-fry” any order, too.

How has Friskie Fries grown since its inception?
TW:
We started with one food truck a block up from our downtown location. Now we have two trucks that go to festivals and events around the state and two store locations.
RD: We were thrown to the wolves when we first started. Our first day was PVDFest and the day had a flawless execution. It’s been an amazing experience since then. We’re very humbled by how quickly it happened and the support that we get from everyone.

With two trucks and two stores, do you plan to expand physically?
RD:
There are plans for [physical] expansion.
TW: We’d love to capitalize on the southern part of the state as well as see what the [East] Bay has to offer us.

Friskie Fries
100 Washington Street • 228-2660