We like to keep an eye on trends in the fast casual segment here at ShortOrder, and recently we spotted one that’s particularly a-peel-ing. Apparently potatoes are what’s hot—so to speak—in fryers across the nation. Because the potato is a versatile vegetable (boil ‘em, mash ‘em, stick ‘em in a stew), there are many possibilities when it comes to catering to customers in need of a creative spud.
The potato trend is actually one that’s resurfacing. It was a big deal back in about 2008, when it seemed that every oven in a quick service restaurant was making room for potatoes and sweet potatoes. Now, a recent twist has found a place in the fast casual industry, and a few places, like Potatopia, have even made the potato the star of a single-item menu. Not unlike the fast casual personal pizza trend, the potato trend focus seems to be mostly on variety, customization, and toppings.
So how can you hop on the potato trend bandwagon?
Start by exploring all your potato possibilities. First, the things you can do to the actual potato: bake, boil, mash, twice-bake, thrice-bake, pancake, smash, sauté, fry, pie, and chip are just a few that come to mind. When you’re equipped with the right restaurant equipment, there is no limit to the number of ways you can cook a potato.
Next, the art of dressing the potato. Old standbys like cheese, sour cream, and butter are, of course, a good idea, but you can easily branch out to let customers personalize their potatoes with sauces, meats, vegetables, and more.
Then make sure you’ve got the right equipment. The kitchen at Potatopia, for example, houses a double-decker convection oven, fryers, and a hybrid convection-microwave oven. Gather up a variety of restaurant equipment, and make sure you get high-quality equipment like Gen2 fryers. If your menu is based around a single item, you don’t want your main ingredient to be a lackluster part of the dish.