South LA’s Mr Fries Man is expanding, even during a pandemic. Owner Craig Batiste opened a new pick-up location in Inglewood this week, his second after the original Gardena restaurant opened almost three years ago.
He took over the former Equelecua Cuban Cafe in September and opened a few weeks later. The new loaded french fry spot is around the corner from the original Randy’s Donuts, and a one minute walk to Three Weavers Brewing Company. All fries are loaded with half a dozen different meat options on top of fries covered in shrimp, beef, snow crab, and more recently, the plant-based Beyond Meat.
Batiste shared that another USC adjacent location will open in the former Taqueros space on Figueroa, right across from Exposition Park and the Banc of California Stadium. And he’s working on another new space in Las Vegas — while partnering with a childhood friend — anticipating that both will be open by the end of the year.
But the expansion doesn’t stop there. Batiste took the franchise route with additional locations headed for Utah, New Orleans, and Houston. Batiste wanted to go bigger, but had to reconfigure his plans after the pandemic. “Before [coronavirus] happened, we had an investment team with a deal on the table. They were going to buy the master franchise with 16 stores. They backed out when all this stuff started happening.”
It’s an unusual situation for Batiste or any restaurant owner to be in 2020. He’ll open multiple locations throughout the country despite the fact that 1 in 6 restaurants have closed permanently nationwide. Hours for Mr. Fries Man in Inglewood are 11 a.m. until 9 p.m. daily.