Brooklynites are celebrating the return of Roll N Roaster’s beloved french fries, as the Sheepshead Bay eatery brought back the original frites recipe after an outcry from locals.
Formerly known as cottage fries, and now dubbed ‘OG Fries,’ the sensational side-order left the menu in early 2022 because of a shortage of large potatoes — and were replaced by a different preparation that irked locals.
Now, though, the original is back to stay “forever,” said the restaurant’s owner.
“We went through so many fries to replace them,” said Eric Rodriguez, owner and general manager of Sheepshead Bay’s 53-year-old classic roast beef sandwich eatery. “I learned so much about potatoes in the last 16 months. It was a nightmare.”
Rodriguez says the restaurant has been extremely busy since the announcement of the fries’ return last week.
“My wife and I couldn’t get away, so we sat down here for lunch. I had a sandwich, she had a burger, we ordered the fries with Cheez, and the moment we tried them was like a flashback,” he said. “We understood right away these were what our customers wanted.”
Rodriguez also shifted blame away from the restaurant for changing the fries in the first place — given that climate change was ultimately what caused the modification.
Roll N Roaster used to get extra large potatoes from Lamb Weston food processing company, which grew their potatoes in the Columbia River Basin, mostly in eastern Washington. Those potatoes were large enough that they could be cut into cylinders before being sliced, which gave it a special texture that customers loved.
But, as the average temperature has increased in the area in the last couple of years, they were unable to grow the root vegetables at the correct size.
“We never wanted to take them off the menu. We tried to explain to people that it was a problem with our suppliers, but they didn’t want to listen, they just wanted their fries and they are very vocal,” Rodriguez said.
And vocal is somewhat of an understatement.
“The cottage fries are just as much Roll N Roaster as the orange-ade and the freshly baked buns. It’s their identity,” said Michael Quinn, who started a petition calling for the original fries’ restoration. “I understand the pandemic, we had some challenges with supply chain issues, but I couldn’t imagine discontinuing my signature item.”
Finally, though, the restaurant found a replacement, allowing them to return to their beloved fries — and decided to name them “OG Fries” in line with the nickname angry customers gave them during their year-and-a-half-long absence.
“OUR OG FRIES ARE BACK!!!!” reads the restaurant’s Instagram post with over 2,000 likes. Their price is also the same as it used to be — $3.94 and $4.95 with ‘Cheez.’
“They have a big fanbase,” Rodriguez said.