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Myfrii opens in Burke Mill Village
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Myfrii opens in Burke Mill Village

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The management team behind East Coast Wings + Grill has opened a new restaurant with a fries and sliders concept called myfrii.

The first myfrii opened Dec. 29 at 3477 Burke Mill Road, off South Stratford Road in Burke Mill Village, which also holds Viva Chicken, Taco Mama, Duck Donuts and Clean Juice.

Myfrii specializes in hand-cut “topped” or loaded fries, plus a selection of sliders made with beef hamburgers, chicken and hot dogs.

In 2019, ZorAbility, Inc., an advisory and investment company for emerging restaurant brands started by East Coast Wings CEO Sam Ballas, bought a majority stake in #getfried, a brand started in Buffalo, N.Y., by Chris Covelli in 2015.

The #getfried was a small chain of “fry cafés” whose menu was based on French fries with various toppings. Ballas has spent the last two years reworking the #getfried concept with help of his partners in ZorAbility: Mark Lyso, president of ZorAbility and myfrii, and chief development officer for East Coast Wings; Tom Scalese, a senior director of ZorAbility and the chief operating officer of East Coast Wings; and Sammy Gianopoulos, a senior director of ZorAbility and the owner of Sammy G’s Tavern, Fratellis Italian Steakhouse, and Three Bulls American Steakhouse.

The result is myfrii, for which ZorAbility is the majority owner, with Chris Covelli retaining a minority stake.

The team planned to launch myfrii much earlier, but, like many restaurateurs, ran into delays related to the coronavirus pandemic. But the delays gave them time to react to some long-term changes that the pandemic was causing in the restaurant business.

Lyso said, “We were able to retool the fries concept to give it more traction, to turn it into a fast-casual model with legs to grow.”

Lyso said the company worked hard to come up with the best quality food they could with quick turnaround times and a price point where everything is under $10.

The restaurant can seat 40 inside with counter service but is designed to offer takeout and delivery.

In reworking the #getfried concept to turn it into myfrii, the team switched to hand-cut fries made in-house, tweaked the fries toppings and added 16 different sliders. Other significant additions to the menu are milkshakes and house-made oversized tater tots.

“All of the recipes are from Sammy Gianopoulus,” Ballas said.

Gianopoulos said he started from scratch, trying to figure out how to make the best fries, using different cooking methods and various cuts. “You wouldn’t believe how hard it is to get fries right,” Gianopoulos said with a laugh. “But hand-cut fries are totally worth it.”

Ballas said that the company spent hours testing the fries on simulated takeout/delivery runs to make sure the fries stayed crispy for at least 15 minutes.

Myfrii’s fries are thin with the peel on. They are served with myfrii sauce, a mayonnaise-based tangy sauce with mustard and ketchup. Myfrii also has a handful of other dipping sauces, including homestyle ranch, spicy mayo, bbq, Buffalo and samurai bbq.

Those fries are the base for six meal trays, all $9.99. The myfrii mac consists of fries topped with a certified Angus beef burger, American cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, pickles and myfrii sauce. The samurai bbq tray has garlic-tossed fries with baked mozzarella, Asian-style bbq chicken, Asian-style slaw, cilantro and spicy mayo. The papou gus consists of lemon-oregano fries topped with gyro meat, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, feta and tzatziki. Other trays feature Buffalo chicken, fire-roasted chicken and shaved sirloin.

There are six burger sliders on the menu, all made with certified Angus beef and served on King’s Hawaiian buns.

The o.g. myfrii has American cheese, pickles and myfrii sauce. The A.1. Sammy house has A.1. sauce, provolone and grilled onions. The texii mex has pepper jack, cotija chese, grilled peppers and onions, guacamole and cilantro.

There also are six chicken sliders. The bbq pulled chicken has fire-roasted pulled chicken, bbq sauce and slaw. The Cajun chicken has a piece of grilled breast meat with provolone, slaw and spicy mayo.

The dog sliders use 100% beef Hebrew National hot dogs, cut to fit on a slider bun. They include the Carolina dog — with American cheese, chili, slaw, mustard and onions — and the b-rad dog with mustard, onions, tomatoes, pickles, jalapeno pepper relish and celery salt.

All of the sliders come with fries and are priced the same: two for $7.99 or three for $9.99.

Fries by themselves go for $3.99 for a generous trayful. There also are “snack” fries for $4.49, which consist of fries topped with chili and cheese or feta and tzatziki, or other toppings.

The house-made tots ($4.49 for six large) come with a choice of the myfrii or other dipping sauce.

Shakes include six classics ($3.79) — vanilla, strawberry, chocolate, peanut butter, banana and salted caramel — plus several premium flavors ($4.79) that include cookie butter crunch and chocolate toffee.

The restaurant also sells Coca-Cola fountain drinks.

Myfrii is using DoorDash for deliveries. It is in the process of adding online ordering directly through its website.

Ballas and his team plan to turn myfrii into a franchise chain. But they expect to open one more company-owned store in the Triad before they start expanding into franchises. Charlotte is in line for one of the franchise locations. Other sites in consideration, including former #getfried spots, stretch from New York to Florida and Texas.

Ballas, who also serves on the board of the International Franchise Association, said he believes that myfrii is set up to thrive in the “new normal” restaurant industry that has seen significant changes during the pandemic.

He said that more and more restaurateurs are looking at fast-casual restaurants that offer the quality food of sit-down casual restaurants while focusing on fast service and takeout-friendly menus at a reasonable price.

“What we’re seeing is you can have a smaller footprint, a smaller restaurant that takes fewer employees to run, and still do the volume,” Ballas said. “But you have to have quality food at the right price point.”

Ballas said he even has tweaked the East Coast Wings concept. New franchisees now have the option of choosing to open a smaller East Coast Wings that is more of a fast-casual restaurant, with no bar and more emphasis on takeout.

Michael Hastings: My top 5 dining stories of 2021

The effects of the coronavirus pandemic continued to dominate local restaurant news in 2021. There were fewer closures this year and a welcome return of customers to dining rooms. Still, many restaurants had an even harder year than 2020 as they dealt with a labor shortage, price increases and supply-chain issues with everything from takeout containers to cooking oil to liquor.

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@mhastingswsj

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