Labor Day weekend is upon us, friends. Summer has come to an end. Yet, as we put away our white pants and shoes and begin to fill our drawers with sweaters and thermals, metro Detroiters get one last hurrah — one last chance to enjoy the fruits of a Michigan summer. Arts, Beats & Eats sets up shop in downtown Royal Oak this weekend, and food vendors will line the streets of South Washington, offering a chance to sample selections from local restaurants. While those offerings will surely be singular and scrumptious, the thing we look forward to most is something more carnival-style.
Spud specialists from the Potato Factory will be on hand, cooking up the street-style goodness that is a heaping helping of butterfly chips. Piled high with toppings like American cheese, sour cream, bacon bits, and chives, the base is made up of "butterfly cut" potatoes that are sliced and fried right on-site. The result is a starchy mountain of crunchy chips that slowly evolve into a satisfying mush that goes great with a crisp, cold pilsner.
According to owner Tina Laskaris, all potatoes are washed, cut, and fried on-site, which is rather remarkable when considering they sell about 1,500 orders a day. One order uses a single potato, which amounts to the usage of almost 6,000 potatoes by the end of the festival.
Also noteworthy is the Potato Factory's mission to employ inner-city youth. Many of their employees return year after year, and they've even developed a bit of pageantry to go along with those potatoes.
"We turn on rap or hip-hop or whatever the kids want to listen to, and at some point they'll all stop and just start dancing," says Laskaris. "We actually have a thing called the Potato Factory Hustle. At the end of a long, 16-hour day we all go outside the booth and do it."
Potatoes and dancing — who could ask for anything more? mt