Bastardizations of the crunchwrap are literally everywhere right now, so it makes sense that ever-present celebrity DJ Khaled would get in on the action. The man behind delivery-only Another Wing is partnering with another ubiquitous app-specific restaurant Man vs. Fries to debut their own version of the trendy hand-held Taco Bell made famous. This one is dusted with Cheetos and stuffed with chicken, cheese, and waffle fries. It’s the type of food that brands feel stoners fetishize.
Baltimore, Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, Nashville, Phoenix, and Portland will see the launch of the Khaled Krunch on Friday, November 11. Atlanta, Austin, Denver, Detroit, the Twin Cities, Philadelphia, San Diego, San Antonio, and Seattle will see a Friday, December 18 debut. Supply chain problems are (of course) to blame for the delay.
In Chicago, home to a strong independent restaurant community, ghost kitchens and their alliances with third-party delivery providers have been under scrutiny. This is the city with twin lawsuits ongoing versus Grubhub and DoorDash.
But Man vs. Fries’ founder Bill Bonhorst says he doesn’t want ghost kitchen haunting local restaurants. The delivery-only concept saved his Bay Area restaurants during the pandemic as he and his partner rotated pop-ups at their Cinco Taco Bars while indoor dining remained suspended. After success with California-style burritos stuffed with fries and fired Oreos, he partnered with REEF, a company that helped developed virtual restaurants for Wendy’s and David Chang (though some are now fleeing the startup), working to grow operations nationwide.
It took nine tries to perfect the crunchwrap. Bonhorst says Khaled cheers him on, telling him “it’s fire” if an item comes together. Bonhorst mentions how he grew up poor, and how Thursdays when his dad got his paycheck, the family would indulge in fast food. He gravitated toward fries, stuffing them in burgers. He maintains an underdog mentality with Man vs. Fries and says he hustled to secure funding: “Nobody believed in us, nobody took us seriously,” he says.
That changed when he partnered with REEF, which — in turn — connects him with the third-party delivery companies. Bonhorst serves on a consulting board with DoorDash and says he trying to rehab ghost kitchens and their reputations. He sees them as potential assets and that some businesses would benefit from hosting virtual restaurants.
“For me, I believe there needs to be more collaboration instead of competition in the restaurant industry,” Bonhorst says
Bonhorst’s food is very popular in Denver, Portland, and Seattle, places where policymakers have long relaxed cannabis laws. Bonhorst isn’t sure, but perhaps there’s a connection as loaded fries have stoner appeal.
Man vs. Fries wants to expand. Bonhorst says he’s spent the last year perfecting a vegan version of their product — they use Takis instead of Cheetos. He maintains that this isn’t a gimmick and that he isn’t following trends.
“I’ve been doing this for five years,” Bonhorst says. “This is something love personally.”