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Business Observer Friday, Mar. 29, 2019 10 months ago

Alum returns with restaurant concept

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FGCU grad brings #getfried french fry-focused eatery to University Village Shops near Florida Gulf Coast University.

Branded with the slogan “Sometimes, it’s good to be bad,” #getfried Fry Cafe, a quick-serve restaurant built around a variety of topped French fries, opened its first Southwest Florida location at the University Village Shops in March. 

The opening adds another option for students who have a case of the munchies. It's also a homecoming of sorts: Chris Covelli, who played golf on scholarship at Florida Gulf Coast University from 2005 to 2009, will bring the concept to town, to the new shopping center adjacent to FGCU and in the heart of the growing Estero area. The former Eagle thinks the location next to FGCU is an ace in the hole.

“Having attended FGCU and having lived in Estero, I have always loved the area,” says Covelli. “To be able to bring our concept here is a dream come true. Fast-casual, customizable restaurant concepts are becoming more popular among consumers, especially millennials, and we know that #getfried will be a huge hit with the students at FGCU.”

Specializing in gourmet-topped French fries, #getfried offers four styles of fries personalized with a choice of more than 20 sauces, seasonings and proteins. The menu also includes a selection of burgers and finger foods.

Based in Buffalo, N.Y., and becoming franchise-compliant in 2016, #getfried has locations in Buffalo, Santa Clara, Calif., San Antonio, Dallas, Philadelphia and Dunedin. In addition to the founder’s local connection, franchise owners Mike Pica and JP Figaro are Southwest Florida residents. Pica also owns Mario’s Meat Market and Deli in Fort Myers.

Pica and Figaro have committed to developing seven #getfried units over the next six years throughout Southwest Florida. “Our casual dining, quick-serve style restaurant will focus on quality comfort food and superior customer service,” says Figaro in a statement. “We couldn't ask for a better location and we’re thrilled to meet and serve our local community.”

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