It’s 10:50 a.m. on Friday in Tanners Creek, a suburban Huntersville neighborhood, and a line has formed near the community pool. But these folks aren’t waiting to swim; they’re hungry. What the Fries is setting up for its 11 a.m. open, serving the loaded fries and tots the food truck is famous for.
While the restaurant industry as a whole has struggled during the pandemic, WTF co-owners and chefs Jamie Barnes and Greg Williams say they’re thankful to be staying busy.
Covid changes: During the pandemic the truck is operating on a limited menu but most of the crowd favorites are still available. It’s also added online pre-orders via Toast to allow customers to skip the line.
WTF has seen a 20 percent increase in orders from April to May and has added stops to the food truck schedule.
“We’ve added locations to our schedule in neighborhoods and apartment complexes we haven’t been to before, allowing new customers to discover our culinary styles and our story,” Barnes said.
What the Fries isn’t Barnes and Williams’ first venture together. The two are both founding members of Soul Food Sessions, a popular dinner series. They also made it to the final rounds of auditions for the Food Network’s The Great Food Truck Race.
The fries: WTF’s fries are hand-cut, crispy on the outside, and soft and warm on the inside.
Cheesy fries are one of the most popular options, but there’s also specialities like shrimp hibachi, truffle, and flaming loaded fries. The popular lobster mac and cheese fries aren’t on the menu but they’ll make a reappearance one day soon.
The fries aren’t the only potatoes on the menu — hello tots! Get them plain or order the “undecided” and get half fries, half tots. If you’re feeling adventurous and want something sweet, ask for the Fruity Pebbles bread pudding tots.
These dishes are all spins on classics but Barnes says WTF focuses on quality ingredients. Cheesy fries are made with gouda, Colby jack, Boursin cheese sauce, and Parmesan. You’ll also find an array of sauces and seasonings including a garlic mayo.
“Our flavorings, we make our seasoning that’s unique to just us. There’s other trucks that do loaded fries but we do them a lot different. We make the cheese sauce everyday,” Barnes says. “There’s a lot that we do to separate ourselves from other trucks.”
Handhelds: Customers can choose from burgers and a chicken sandwich. For the burger come with either a single, double, or triple patty. They’re served on buttery brioche buns with garlic mayo and white American cheese.
There’s also a crispy chicken sandwich on the menu. It comes with garlic mayo, pickles (like every good chicken sandwich should), and “yum yum drizzle,” a secret sauce that’s also available by the bottle, though the bottled sauce isn’t on the limited menu.
[Related Agenda guide: The 22 best burgers in Charlotte, ranked]
Location: Both Barnes and Williams hinted at a physical location coming soon but say they aren’t ready to share the details yet. For now, find WTF’s next stops on their Instagram or website. Customers can order ahead to skip the inevitable line that seems to follow this truck everywhere it goes.
Related Agenda guide: Comprehensive list of the best french fries in Charlotte