Thrasher’s French Fries has been an icon on the Ocean City, MD boardwalk since J. T. Thrasher served up the first batch from a window at the city pier in 1929. After 85 years Thrasher’s French Fries still offers only one item, made the way it’s always been made. Les Morris started working there in 1974 at age 16. Two years later he was running the place, and he’s been doing it ever since. Things don’t change much at Thrasher’s. So replacing the fryers at the 8th street location was a pretty big deal.
“I wasn’t overly happy with the current situation”
Thrasher’s goes through potatoes by the train-car load. His old-style manual fryers struggled to maintain temperature. They were constantly breaking down, and it was getting harder to find parts and reliable service. “I thought we could be getting more for our money. I wanted something that worked, that was reliable. I wanted fryers that would recover temperature all day long.”
“We needed fryers that would cook at temperature non-stop 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. every day. Henny Penny didn’t disappoint.” – Les Morris, General Manager
Thrasher’s worked with Taylor AFS, a Henny Penny distributor in Landover, MD, changing the first location over to the new Henny Penny 320 Series gas fryers. The initial conversion would match current vat capacity with 16 half basket drops. (The current configuration actually allowed for 18 drops to make up for slow temperature recovery.) What happened next was interesting. The Henny Penny fryers basically recovered temperature in seconds. The resulting increase in throughput made one of the new fryers unnecessary!
“My guy at that store wasn’t sold on the whole idea at first. But he went from ‘I don’t know if this is going to work…’ to ‘hey, take that extra fryer out. We don’t need it.’ It sold him and that sold me.”
Les Morris started out simply looking for fryers that were more reliable than what he had. He wound up needing fewer new fryers and using 15% less oil. Les plans to convert the other two locations of Thrasher’s Fries to Henny Penny.