McDonald's and Burger King may be fighting over who makes better french fries, but that hasn't stopped 32-year-old Suzanne Levinson from tempting the palates of New Yorkers in the East Village with her own signature spuds.
Levinson's first tiny Pommes Frites street shop opened just last year, serving European-style twice-fried french fries along with 30 dipping sauces. In 1997, sales hit approximately $500,000--thanks to customers who collectively devoured as much as 3 tons of potatoes each week. A second location is set to open in Manhattan by year-end, and Levinson has decided to franchise the concept.
The former travel executive traces her entrepreneurial inspiration back to a trip to Belgium, where she first stumbled upon the idea. "The Belgians have fry shops on every street," she says. "And I said to myself, `Why don't we have this in New York?' Then I said, `If I don't do it, somebody else will.' "
So she did--despite her lack of experience. After getting some research assistance from the New York Public Library and scoring a start-up loan from Chase Manhattan Bank, she launched the business.
Today, the line of patrons stretches out the door of her Bavarian, Tudor-style eatery. And although it takes up a mere 500 square feet, that doesn't faze this fry connoisseur. "We have a window where we serve onto the street," she explains. "The best way to have your fries, I think, is to just walk down the street, eating [them] in the open air."
Pommes Frites Inc., 123 Second Ave., New York, NY 10003, (212) 674-1234