CHEAP EATS: J.R.'s Fresh Cut Fries
J.R.'s Fresh Cut French Fries serves food friendly and fast.
It's a tastier option for a sandwich and fries compared to a fast food chain.
Between 11 a.m. and
1:30 p.m. on Central Market days, J.R.'s has a worker filling sodas, someone working the register and fryers making orders sent through a ticket system. They get about
350 customers every business day.
When I went for lunch, I didn't have to wait more than five minutes, even with a line past the seating area, which seats 32.
"We don't make anything in advance, aside from our BBQ and chicken pot pie," owner Ron Jacobs said. "Those fryers are back there frying like crazy."
Hot oil at J.R.'s is always full of something the eatery is known for - fries.
Jacobs is one of three owners that said the secret to his good French fries is the potatoes, which aren't your average grocery-store variety.
"Because our oil is so hot, most potatoes will burn," Jacobs said.
J.R.'s buys local potatoes grown specifically for French fry makers when they are in season. Out of season, he purchases brands from Florida.
But, the eatery isn't just a place for fresh fries that are crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. It's also a place to get a choice of 12 combo options, all that come with fries and 16 oz. drink.
The most popular combos are the hamburger BBQ, which is a Pennsylvania Dutch recipe Jacob's mom made when he was a child, and the pulled- pork BBQ, a sweet and spicy choice.
The hamburger BBQ was my choice. The tomato-based sauce has a tang of mustard that delivered the flavor I like. It wasn't too messy, either - meat stayed inside the bun in a perfect portion. The fries were the best, though - perfectly crisp with the skins still on. I got mine to go, like most of J.R.'s customers. The eatery is used to packing sandwiches in Styrofoam boxes, filling a cup of fries and packing everything in a brown bag for customers to stuff with napkins and ketchup.
"We have about 70 percent of customers get food to go," he said. "The other
30 percent eat it right there."
J.R.'s serves larger portions to take home, too. They have a special menu that includes the option to order food by the pound. That makes up about 25 percent of daily sales, Jacobs said.
But, owners know their success is more than the food - it's a connection to the community. J.R.'s Fries at Central Market has more than 11,000 likes on Facebook. Jacobs said he makes it a priority to respond to every comment on their wall.
"It takes me hours a day," Jacobs said.
Also, J.R.'s Fries donates a portion of sales to local charities. Groups that they have given funds to include the York County Food Bank, York SPCA, Feed the Children and Feeding America. In addition, every two months owners do a fundraiser for a charity.
"We really think of all of our customers as friends," Jacobs said.
Cheap Eats profiles local restaurants, aiming to please our palates and our wallets. Reach Ashley May at 717-771-2053; email@example.com; @AshleyMayTweets.
If you go
If you go
LOCATION: Central Market, 34 W. Philadelphia St., York
ASHLEY'S PICK: Hamburger BBQ combo (with fries and drink), $5.75
HOURS: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday
PRICE RANGE: $2 to $7.50
ACCEPTS: Cash and credit
KID'S MENU: No