Mentor Monday – Lord of The Fries!
Lord of the Fries varies from the usual convenient food choices by having a philosophy of being all-inclusive, offering fresh, 100% Australian-grown produce with kosher, halal, vegetarian, gluten free and even vegan options to suit everyone. As well as its signature fries, the rest of the menu is entirely vegetarian and includes burgers, hot dogs, chicken nuggets and onion rings. Husband and wife Mark and Amanda’s met in Taiwan and bonded over their love of fries.
When they returned to Melbourne, along with Mark’s brother, Sam, they started the business as a mobile food van travelling to festivals. LOTF fries were recently ranked by Sunday Herald Sun as the top five Melbourne places for hot chips and won the I Love Food Awards 2012 for best vegetarian/vegan outlet in Australia.
Taking on the ‘big guys’: Bigger chains have larger marketing budgets and purchasing power, making it challenging for small operators and independents to compete. Lord of the Fries have successfully grown its business in a niche market by:
Offering consumers variety: Lord of the Fries constantly updates its menu to cater to its customers’ varying taste buds e.g. seasonal menu, sauce of the month, breakfast and dinner menus etc
24/7 customer interaction: Lord of the Fries believes people are the core of its business and places high importance on listening, engaging and seeking feedback from its fans. Having built a strong database of more than 10,000 fans and followers on Facebook and Twitter, Lord of the Fries uses its social media channels to maintain an active dialogue with its customers.
In-store experience: With the rise of online, consumers are now seeking more from their offline experiences. Lord of the Fries takes pride in its in-store experience by catering each store fit-out specifically to the store’s surroundings/environment e.g. Brunswick store fit-out for alternative crowd, videos and wallpaper in Chapel St store to suit the ‘Chapel St vibe’, Flinders St Station designed for students/commuters etc.
Staying true to your brand: With its unique culture, Lord of the Fries has established a strong cult following from its days as a mobile food van. It understands its customers’ beliefs and values around the environment, home-grown food and even their love for music, and ensures its business activities are always in line with its brand and audience. E.g. sponsorship with local internet music TV station Poncho TV
‘Quality’ fast food: In stressful times, saving money and convenience is more important to consumers than their health. Lord of the Fries conducted a survey late last year that supported the ‘fast food comeback’ trend, with 65% of respondents valuing price over health (50%), nearly a third (27%) eating out at least once a week and half (51%) eating out at least twice. Lord of the Fries are passionate about the importance of offering consumers fresh, high quality fast food, specifically:
They are committed to fresh not frozen fries; hand cut potatoes cooked twice with no Trans Fats, using sunflower and cottonseed oil which is cleaned and filtered daily. From day one, Lord of the Fries knew it was more important for the business to establish a strong foundation in its home state before branching out nationally and internationally.
This month, the business has opening its sixth store on Brunswick Street, Fitzroy, cementing its niche as a unique, quality fast food offering. The solid growth of the franchise is also set to continue with at least three more new stores opening in 2012, in their heartland of Melbourne and interstate, championing the brand into its next cycle.
LOTF has developed a cult following of urbanites with a love for quality home-grown food and passion for music and the environment, which makes Fitzroy an obvious location choice for the business. Known for its eclectic and trendy vibe, the new store has come as no surprise to Fitzroy locals, who have been campaigning for a LOTF for some time. With a future retro, American diner-style fit-out designed by influential architects ‘Russell and George’, (who have created store concepts for brands such as Crumpler and Thurley) the new store is perfectly placed amongst Melbourne’s major alternative retail, eating, and entertainment strip, whilst still carving a targeted point of difference.
Whilst the store will have all the features of the quick service kiosks that LOTF have become famous for, enabling customers to grab and go, it is also the first of LOTF’s chain to be licensed. The restaurant has developed a new specials menu in conjunction with local bloggers, signifying a nod to Fitzroy’s vibrant nightlife and grass-roots culture.