Twenty five years of New York Fries (by Thomas Hagey)
December 21, 2009
I remember hanging out with Jay Gould's family 25 years ago and hearing him talk about starting a business which would initially sell, skin-on french fries and Coca-Cola. I thought it was a bold move for someone who had cut his teeth on one of Canada's first fresh food restaurants ...a little place called Cultures. Gould was 21 years old when he co-founded the popular establishment. Cultures offered their customers fresh food options...a concept that is now being taken more serious these days by almost everyone in the food service industry. They eventually sold the brand.
But Gould's eyes gleamed with passion about french fries. Not just any fries--the best fries. He wasn't prepared to serve his customers anything but the best and in order to have the best fries;he maintained that you need to buy the best potatoes. And that's exactly what he did. (But I thought all potatoes were alike...clearly not!)
The task at hand was that the company needed to invent the gourmet french fry category and have deep enough pockets to promote it and develop it in order to succeed long term. Gould and company managed to achieve this as well, despite the fact that at the time, grocery store fries were cheap as borsht. His goal was to become the french fry specialists, a category he would eventually come to own.
The last time I saw Jay and his wife they were walking through the airport in St. Martens. It was a brief but friendly encounter but as usual he was heading back to Canada to take care of business.
So today, out of curiosity, I Googled his name and discovered the homegrown Canadian company was opening their 200th franchised store across the world in Hong Kong (this will be the second New York Fries in Hong Kong). But it doesn't stop there. They're in the Middle East and rumour has it that the Hong Kong master licensee is planning to open up future outlets in China.
The Canadian company signed a master license deal with Hong Kong-based Next Step Limited to open multiple retail units in Hong Kong and Macao in 2008. Next Step Limited plans to open 10 more units over the next five years in Hong Kong’s high traffic shopping centres and street front locations, with a move into mainland China as the long-term goal.