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#getfried says hands off the hashtag


The French Connection is one of many combos including Oh Canada, Pizza Head and the Cheese Burglar.

There are many approaches to naming a new restaurant, but the owners of #getfried Fry Café have stumbled upon something unique—a Twitter-inspired name they feel is every bit as golden as their warm, crunchy, loaded-up French fries.

Long-time friends and business partners, Garrett Green and Chris Covelli didn’t just trademark their hashtagged moniker for the Buffalo, New York-based loaded fry chain they launched in early 2015—they also secured the rights for using a hashtag as part of any restaurant name, opening up a range of possibilities for more concepts in the future.  

 “Millennials use it every day across multiple platforms in social media as well as in texts,” Covelli said of the symbol formerly known as pound. “That’s not going to change in our minds … hashtags have really become commonplace in our everyday lives.”

Asked if such a name could become dated in the coming years, Green said there’s no end in sight to the growth of social media and that any other, similarly named restaurant would be hearing from their lawyer.

Kenneth Kunkle, a trademark attorney at Kunkle Law of St. Paul, Minnesota, threw a splash of cold water on their claims of hashtag exclusivity, noting that their trademark registration includes the entirety of their logo, its colors and design, and the words “fry café” underneath.

“Adding the hashtag to it doesn’t necessarily give you any extra power,” Kunkle said. “It’s really a functional tool at this point, similar to an address or a website domain.”

Covelli and Green— friends through golfing since they were 13—feel the name is a significant competitive advantage in a nascent category that seems to be gaining momentum with a handful of new players hitting the scene.

Garrett Green

Garrett Green (left) and Chris Covelli are long-time friends and business partners behind  #getfried, a New York-based loaded fry concept.

Covelli said they “absolutely” have plans to found and hashtag other restaurant categories in the future, but are currently focused on adding new #getfried locations, both in the western New York market and outside of the region. Even before their first franchise location opened, they had signed an agreement for a unit in Dubai—far outside the Western Hemisphere.

The first #getfried locations—both corporate owned—are in mall food courts and approximately 475 square feet. The owners also envision brick-and-mortar locations in the 1,000 to 2,000 square-foot range, as well as a food truck that would add another degree of flexibility for potential franchisees. Green and Covelli signed their first three-unit franchise agreement in San Antonio shortly before this issue went to press.

For its third company-owned store, #getfried hopes to build a flagship location in Buffalo that will include craft beer, wine and a full bar to fit in with the city’s student-fueled entertainment district. “They go out and party and drink. What’s a better late-night food than loaded French fries?” Covelli asked.

Specialty fries include the hometown-themed 716, which is shredded chicken with Buffalo sauce and blue cheese, the Oh Canada that’s fries with sausage gravy and cheese curds and the Southern Comfort that’s pulled pork or chicken topped with a wood-fired barbecue sauce. The menu also includes handheld foods like “pizza logs,” as well as Buffalo and Stuffed Pepper Crunch Rolls.

Similar to Smoke’s Poutinerie, a Canadian loaded fry concept based on the opposite shore of Lake Ontario, #getfried is focusing on college towns and cities with sizeable entertainment districts. The menu includes five styles of French fries and more than 20 sauces, a wider array of choices than Smoke’s Poutinerie, founded by Ryan Smolkin, which they see as a significant compedtitive advantage.

 “I give credit where credit’s due, and there’s no question Ryan has done a fantastic job,” Covelli said of his biggest franchised competitor. “He’s jumping into the American market with ridiculous aspirations. Where we separate ourselves is we are Americanized, we connect with American consumers and people understand what our brand is.”

Talk about #thatmoment when the French fry wars started to get interesting.

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