These burger guys really know their fries
VERNON HILLS Friday Jul 13 2012 A bowl of fries waits to be salted while line cook Catalina Garcia of Mundelein prepares an order at Tom And Eddie's. | Michelle LaVigne~Sun-Times Media
Updated: August 20, 2012 6:04AM
VERNON HILLS — The Eddie of the Tom & Eddie’s restaurants takes his french fries seriously.
Seriously enough to fly to Peru to study the potatoes they come from – and seriously enough to celebrate them with one of the goofiest holidays on the calendar.
Tom & Eddie’s, 1270 S. Milwaukee Ave., Vernon Hills, celebrated National French Fry Day on Friday by giving away orders of fries, which are hand cut from Idaho’s Burbank Russet potatoes and are 80 percent water and 20 percent solid.
Ed Rensi and Tom Dentice, former McDonald’s executives, founded the upscale-hamburger chain in 2010 and will open their fifth location this fall.
The Milwaukee Avenue store, which serves Buffalo Grove, Lincolnshire and Vernon Hills, will observe its first anniversary Sept. 1.
The concept, Rensi said, is to be the antithesis of a Five Guys experience, providing the customer with a spacious, well-appointed restaurant, a trove of soft drink, alcohol and even condiment options, Wi-Fi, outdoor seating and meats and potatoes with less grease and more flavor.
Rensi gets excited about everything in the Tom & Eddie’s marketing scheme, including their spuds. He launched into a five-minute solo on the glories of one of the Earth’s plainest foods.
“They are a very difficult creature to make and make well,” Rensi said. “They’re complicated, in that no two potatoes are alike. If you go to the potato instate in Peru, I’m just guessing, but I think you can find millions of varieties.”
Cherle Link, Tom & Eddie’s chief marketing officer, said that while the National French Fry Day promotion came from a calendar of little-known holidays owned by public relations specialist Andy Richardson, the restaurant’s concept came from the minds of Dentice and Rensi.
“Everything they do is custom-made,” Link said. “All our food is fresh-to-order. The only thing frozen in our restaurants is our ice cream. ... We’re going for upscale.”
So, what might be the chain’s next food-related celebration? The man with the calendar said even he had not started thinking about the next promotion.
“We have a book of everything that happens under the sun,” Richardson said.