Great opportunity to try 3 Potato 4 on Sunday, June 25th: “Baked Fries, Toppings and Fundraiser” at 3 Potato 4 at the Stoneridge Shopping Center in Pleasanton. More info: Join fellow members of the gluten-free community at this delicious fundraiser for Camp Celiac and the Celiac Community Foundation of Northern California. Come any time between 11am and 7pm or arrive right at 1pm to join the San Francisco Celiac Meetup Group and meet some new gluten-free friends.

By Vic Dolcourt

Straight outta your gluten-free dreams

Guenevere Blanchard, owner of the 3 Potato 4 restaurant in Pleasanton, CA, was inspired by crispy, delicious double-fried fries (patat frites) while she lived in the Netherlands. These are served in a paper cone and accompanied by a choice of sauces. Although Guenevere did not want the fat and calories of the Dutch delicacy, she guessed Americans would love baked fries with a variety of sauces as much as the Europeans who frequent the busy shops in the Netherlands and Belgium love patat frites. 3 Potato 4 is located in the Stoneridge Shopping Center and has plans for expansion to new locations.

First shop opened on Fisherman’s Wharf

After developing a food preparation method for creating the taste and texture of patat frites without the fat associated with deep frying, Guenevere undertook a proof of concept by opening a shop on San Francisco’s busy Fisherman’s Wharf. 3 Potato 4’s offerings were developed to be organic, vegan, non-GMO and gluten-free. But it wasn’t just the product she wanted to test. She wanted to create a whole cycle from production to the happy customer leaving the shop that does not create a load on the landfill.

Success and move to Stoneridge Shopping Center in Pleasanton

Soft serve at 3P4Not only did her shop receive praise from Americans who loved 3 Potato 4’s baked fries, it was also popular with Canadian and European tourists who were familiar with the Dutch and Belgian offering. This proof-of-concept demonstrated that a 3 Potato 4 shop in a busy mall could be successful. So Guenevere closed the Fisherman’s Wharf shop and opened at a location where she could offer not only baked fries but also complete meals that included soup and dessert, as well as seating. She said, “We wanted to have a larger location with more storage in order to offer more menu items. Our space at Fisherman’s Wharf was only 400 square feet, while at Stoneridge it is 1,300.

Community and sustainability

Guenevere’s core values are evident in her business model. The larger size at the new location gives 3 Potato 4 space to host community events and fundraisers. On Sunday, June 25th, the shop is hosting a fundraiser for the Celiac Community Foundation of Northern California and Camp Celiac, which is hosted by Camp Arroyo just half an hour away in the foothills of Livermore every summer.

The owner’s emphasis on sustainability is well developed at the new location as well: “Our food packaging is 100% compostable. Our organic juices and all natural sodas are served in 100% recyclable bottles. We do not produce any garbage: everything at 3 Potato 4 is 100% compostable, recyclable or biodegradable. Nothing goes to the landfill.”

What’s on the menu

The current location serves four types of baked fries – wedge-cut russets, waffle-cut russets, waffle-cut sweet potatoes, rosemary-seasoned redskins– and over 20 types of dipping sauce, three types of soup and chili, and soft-serve ice cream in a gluten-free cone (or dish). You can sample any of the sauces listed on the menu, and fun new ones are developed regularly. The owner gets creative with the menu in other ways; ‘Unicorn Baked Fries’ are currently available.

3 Potato 4 saucesGuenevere said, “Most people think of a “French fry” as a white potato. Although we are not “French” and we do not “fry” anything, most folks still go for one of the two white baked fries. The sweet potato baked fries appeal to diabetics who are not really supposed to eat white potatoes.” There are two categories for most popular sauces. Those who like it spicy are attracted to sauces like chipotle mayo (vegan) and habanero pineapple barbeque. Folks who like it milder are attracted to aloha barbeque and Thai aioli. The most popular soup is lentil.

Taking it on the road

The restaurant also owns portable ovens and can serve crispy baked fries at a host’s premises. They have provided the food at Build-A-Bear Workshop parties and catered local business luncheons. This summer, 3 Potato 4 is donating baked fries and sauces to a lunch for staff and volunteers at Camp Celiac at Camp Arroyo.

Designed for expansion

3 Potato 4 sweet potato friesGuenevere said that the concept for 3 Potato 4 lends itself to busy locations with foot traffic, including malls, universities, and year-round locations like the Santa Monica 3rd Street Promenade. She has sourced ingredients and cooking equipment so that a shop can be put into service quickly and fairly inexpensively. She noted, “It is pretty easy to deploy. We don’t use gas stoves, vent hoods, or deep fat fryers. We wanted a concept that health and fire department inspectors could approve rapidly.”

The approach is unique, appealing to mainstream tastebuds while serving healthy, gluten-free, and vegan foods that would be a rare find in mall food courts. 3 Potato 4 is seeking additional investment partners to roll out five new stores, some targeted to Southern California where vegan foods have developed considerable traction. Looking ahead, Guenevere has identified about 50 potential franchise locations where 3 Potato 4’s “Comfort Food Gone Healthy” concept would be a welcome addition to the culinary line-up. We hope to see it at more locations soon!