Big Jon’s Fast Fries and the Reinvention of the French Fry

Jon Sandon – Big Jon’s Fast Fries

Big Jon’s Fast Fries, a US Army National Guard veteran-owned business and the first fast-food restaurant in Louisiana to serve loaded French fries with toppings/gravies. Big Jon dreams of In 2020, US Army National Guard veteran Jon Sandon created Big Jon’s Fast Fries to provide new fast food for the Southeastern portion of Louisiana. The long-term vision was not about fries but starting a foundation that would help students throughout the country by training school teachers/administrators on how to identify different learning styles in their students.

Transcript (Beta)

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435-9749 look at me 4d imaging a proud sponsor of local leaders the podcast hi it’s tricia johnston residential realtor with ladder and bloom with your real estate tip of the week in this healthy housing market property values have steadily increased if you’re a homeowner who decides to sell the benefit is obvious if you’re a homeowner who decides not to sell you can still benefit and here’s how if when you purchase the home you got a mortgage and you put less than 20 down chances are you’re paying pmi or private mortgage insurance that’s an insurance that protects the lender in case you default on the mortgage it’s of no benefit to you so the sooner you can get pmi removed from your monthly payment the better an appraiser or a realtor can help you determine the current market value of your home your lender can tell you what your current mortgage balance is and they can give you what the guidelines are to have the pmi removed there’s time restrictions and some stipulations that they can give you the details on but if you qualify you can save hundreds if not thousands of dollars a year moving forward so it’s definitely worth the time and effort to check into it and have it removed if you’re able to if you have any questions about this or anything else real estate just give me a call and i’ll be happy to help i’m trisha johnston with latter and bloom and i’ll be back here next week with another real estate tip for you every year you’ve consumed the weight of a small child in french fries every year the average american consumes nearly 30 pounds of this popular side item my guest for today has a business that turns that side item into a main course and turns french fries in general into a work of art while in the short term john sandon is all about french fries his long-term vision is to make is what makes him the type of leader we want to feature on this show and today you’re going to learn about both so with that welcome john sandon of big john’s fast fries to local leaguers podcast thank you so much it’s awesome to be here thank you i’m excited and uh and i was telling you before we went on air that i got hungry every time i researched your your awesome looking fries that’s the idea that is the idea so you contacted me initially regarding a podcast and before we met i was like man i love french fries but how am i gonna fill up an entire episode talking about french fries then we met and i’m telling all of you out there in the camera world and in the listening world that within 10 minutes of talking with big john my thought was this guy has an unbelievable story and i can’t wait to tell it so get comfortable you’re about to hear an amazing story today so john before we get into your business and talk all about french fries tell me a little about your family so uh i am one of three i have two older sisters making me the baby boy spoiled people of course got it indeed

my mom always joked she said she wanted to have a boy i was like no you just tried twice and got it right third time that’s that’s right that’s right my mothers love their sons and sons love their mothers there’s no doubt about that no doubt and then i actually i have two little boys myself i’ve got an eight-year-old and a four-year-old and they take up a whole bunch of my time yes active is all get out yeah and they’re at that age man oh yeah they’re fun though at that age you know they’re old enough where they can kind of get around on their own but not so small that they can’t you know get into anything and so they’re interesting at that age for sure i remember those days awesome and uh your mom works at the restaurant my mom does just to help out yeah i when i first came up with it i hadn’t planned on asking anyone to help me out with it and as soon as it was really getting moving she said okay well when do i start i was like i wasn’t planning on that like okay well what am i going to pay you she’s like you’re not oh well hey that’s perfect that’s the best kind of work right there yeah she actually the way we work it is i’m the cook and officially the owner and she is the gm that way she handles the scheduling she makes sure that everything keeps running smooth because i do have to work my other job as well so yeah i’m working two jobs at once wow i know how that feels too i get that yeah and you’re building a business you’re building an empire really over there big john’s fast fries now you know you kind of made your way into louisiana you’re not originally from here so so where are you originally from no i was born in california uh that was my dad was working out there i moved to wisconsin with my whole family when i was about five years old i moved to texas when i went to the national guard yes um deployed actually out of texas when i came back i moved to louisiana and that was in 2008 2008 so your national guard army national guard army national guard thank you for your service on that and uh you actually got some training there in the national guard in cooking right i did yes uh when i went to see my uh recruiter i asked specifically i said what is going to be infantry when i’m deployed that isn’t when i’m stateside at which point he smiled and said i like you yeah and told me i wanted to be a cook because it was going to give me the best bonus but there was no way i’d be a cook when i got deployed right so thankfully i learned a great life skill and when i was in iraq i happened to be one of the gun truck gunners i was sticking out the top of the truck wow that’s awesome pretty cool and and iraq was a you know that was a real place right and and uh i was there during enduring freedom rather than iraqi freedom so it was a little more calm down then still definitely dangerous i mean there were plenty of ieds getting set off at that time but there was a lot less active fighting so much so yeah interesting thing that stood out to me was was uh

basically your entire concept for your fries and i’m going to get kind of to the why you do what you do in just a little while because that’s the most special part uh of the story is is the why you do what you do that’s the thing that really intrigued me but um so we’re going to talk about the business first and then the why behind the business shortly after um so you made your way to louisiana as we discussed and at some point you decided you know i’m going to open up a restaurant focusing on fries now that sounds great to me because i love me some fries but um there was a little inspiration with todd graves and raisin canes that kind of got got your wheels turning i guess you could say tell me how you came up with the concept for big johns well i started thinking something that doesn’t really exist and i was um you know if you talk about when you’re going out to eat for fast food most people they don’t necessarily decide by the burger everybody has most the same kind of burger you go because we’ll go where you going to get the fries right that’s exactly right yeah so i like chili cheese fries i like the debris fries from your mom’s cafe and i was along with todd graves i had heard that story a lot of people like to tell that because he’s local legend yeah obviously absolutely and you know the idea of doing one thing and just making sure you do it right so i already had a couple of different flavors that you could put on fries to make some really good loaded fries and i was like well if everyone picks because of the fries why not just make really good fries yeah and from there i expanded it out got to five different types of sauce and gravy that we put on the fries and we’ve got a couple of seasonings we’ve got extras you can put on it four different types of cheese that all tastes very well shredded right on top they hot box in there so it’s good and stringy yeah turns out to be some awesome prizes the rest is history now you know when you’re conceiving of this um i was talking to a previous guest and i and we were talking about how the difference between success and failure a lot of times isn’t necessarily the brain capacity but more the ability to act on something that you’re thinking about so in other words many people have great ideas you know they’ll have a fleeting thought that you know that’s going to make me a million dollars that kind of thing but the problem is a lot of times that’s where it kind of sits it never goes beyond that it’s uh someone told me one time you know the the closest i ever came to being a millionaire was thinking one time when i was sitting in a chair i wish i could change my tv for my chair but they never acted on it and a few years later my control came out right so that’s kind of how those how how those differences set in now for you you had a great idea and and i you know looking at it now after you’ve already done all the work i’m thinking why didn’t i think of that you know that’s a great idea um but there was uh what you did that most people don’t do is you acted on it you actually apparently sat down and kind of wrote out what you were wanting to do oh definitely and was that was that like a process with you know um to be honest i don’t really know any how how did you start about you know once the concept was there how did you start about you just started looking for a location um so the first thing i was doing at the point i really kind of brain child it up i guess you could say yeah i was losing weight at that time yeah that was obvious 350 pounds 350. and yeah we’re going yeah somewhere and i’m curious before you go further how did you lose all the weight um i started with a couple of different kind of diets i was doing paleo for a little while and keto yeah and finally i just got into calorie counting because i mean everyone all kind of different type diets they talk about how you plateau yes and you know looking into using different types of exercise and figuring out what do i want to be because if you’re basing your calorie count off where you start you’re not going to get where you want to finish right if you base your calorie count off of where do i want to be well if you’re lower than what you need to be for your ideal weight eventually your body’s going to get there because you’re going to lose weight until you get there yes that’s a great point and in his case folks i know it’s kind of hard to tell on camera but he’s six five so he’s a he’s a tall guy to begin with and so his ideal weight would be different than obviously somebody 510 511 but uh but yes you’re exactly right you do plateau at some point on all diets and and you know personally i intermittent fasting works very well for me um i like it because i can get off of it gain a bunch of weight and then just go right back to it and drop 20 pounds just quick but your method um i i guess you’d call it just a calorie uh restrictive diet yeah also very good i mean and and you know the com the common sense with diets not to get into a diet conversation or a french fry show but the common sense to diets is it’s calories in calories out so you know but you’ve done very well with it so how much have you lost total uh on the scale i lost 150 pounds wow that’s amazing man but i wasn’t doing anything then and now i i lift a lot i play baseball with my son half hour at least every day we usually have a couple times we’ll go play for about two hours yeah he spends most of it on the bench tired and i’m actually out getting everything set for our next go round which makes me feel awesome because it used to be you know he wanted to go play after 10 minutes i was like buddy it’s hot i’m gonna go back inside yeah and now i’m i’ll spend two hours out there playing baseball having a great time with my son which is great yeah that’s fantastic really as far as the business it was really the same thing yeah it was you know i started with i knew i wanted to make a new concept so i worked with fries and i had a couple of gravies that i thought would work really good with it so i wanted to make sure one that they could always be frozen that way because eventually what i would like to do is actually have franchises yes and i’ll produce it from a plant that will ship it to the franchise so it needs to be able to be frozen that way it’s easily transportable across the united states to where it needs to go so getting all the different flavors that i decided i was going to go with i had to come up with three of them from scratch which was a little bit of fun yeah the other two i pretty much had already so um really i started with making sure i had the flavors down right yeah before i really got into the idea of the location itself hey before you watch the newest episode of local leaders of podcast i want to tell you about the newest sponsor idel lane spa and boutique now peyton courtney and the crew over there are much more than just clothing you can get spray tans you can get skin care services makeup and so much more they’re located at 295 68 walker south road suite b and i’m going to link their facebook page to the bottom of this video so just go there click the link and you can get all the information you want about all their exciting services peyton courtney and idell lane spawn boutique the newest proud sponsor of local leaders the podcast um i honestly was going to start with a food truck yeah was the idea but zoning ideas and problems with that in livingston which is where i was going to try yeah ended up making it so that that wasn’t going to be feasible yeah it’s it’s sweet with the food truck laws uh you know and and uh it’s interesting like new orleans i was looking into kind of their because they obviously have a huge food truck um uh i guess popularity um with all the tourists and stuff and um they actually sell licenses for the food trucks but they limit them so it’s if you you know it’s kind of like taxis they limit taxis too from what i understand or did um so it’s crazy how much restriction is involved in the food truck business i never really realized that but um but hopefully that’ll get better and and um and all of that and who knows in the long run it it did allow you to kind of open your restaurant there and so one door shut another one open i guess exactly and at the end of the day i’ve got a location which i hope to be at for a long time yes i mean that’s the plan yes absolutely absolutely and and i think you’re you’re off to a great start it’s gained a whole bunch of popularity and and uh i know a lot of a lot of my folks that i even realized went there went there um so make sure you you know when you do go buy big john’s fast fries tag the location and uh and let people know yes check in on facebook and let us know we will happily give you a five percent discount every time yes there you go five percent off i’ll take that every day now the interesting thing uh also is the date that you chose to open big john’s fast fries december 16th of 2020 smack nab in the middle of a pandemic uh now since that was your opening date i would imagine you kind of got started with the business prior to the pandemic so uh didn’t stop you kind of sorta um i had been saving up i had the amount that i was looking for trying to get to where i said okay this is what i want to have is how i want everything set and then i’m going to go and i got right to the doorstep of it and pandemic happened so i kind of put it off and put it off and put it off and it’s like it kept on being harder and harder to make sure that like that reason for having the nest egg yeah you know it was like you said you know just having the idea in my head was one thing but yeah finally it was right around september i was like you know i can’t do it if too many things keep on coming up i keep wanting to use this for something else if i’m going to do this i have to do it yeah so it i just started i that would that it was go time and i was full go from then and honestly if it hadn’t been for a couple of miscommunications like there were some licenses i didn’t realize i needed there were some problems between the man who owns the building and some of the inspectors yeah and always so we actually i yeah we got delayed actually by almost a month i would have opened almost a month earlier yeah because i it was i once i decided it was time to go i was going you ducked your head down and you went straight for and you know it’s interesting you mentioned earlier you work the you know big john’s fast prizes and your only employment you have another job in addition to that um i was that same way when i started the podcast i had a i was working two jobs at once trying to manage and and even mr milkshake another friend of ours that uh you know he he was the same way he had a bret route and was also uh working food trucks all over the place so it’s interesting how entrepreneurs typically they start off that way and then eventually you grow to the point you’re like okay yeah it’s time to quit that first job or whatever it’s kind of funny because everyone i’ve talked to like yourself and i haven’t talked to mr milkshake but um my cpa uh i go to shelby carnahan yes andrews yeah and you know when she first really got into it she was kind of working too and it’s you know everyone asks well how long are you gonna work till you get to quit yeah and you know it’s like that’s kind of the mentality that people come to you with and i’m like i’m not going to quit until i have to right right i’m holding on to this because i know this takes care of that’s going to take care of itself and now i can build this more and more so as long as i can hold on i’m going to and that’s i’ve always kind of said that’s my goal is i’m going to hold on to that job as long as i can absolutely when this gets to be too much well then yeah i’m not going to have a choice and you’ll never have to pick one of the others that’s right and you’ll know when that time comes and and i believe that god kind of uh you know pushes you towards where you’re supposed to be in life and and uh and so you’ll know it’ll come to you one day it’ll be like the most comfortable decision you ever made which is which is crazy because i was just like you i’m like no way and um and so it’s crazy how life comes full circle with that now uh to say your fries are unique is really an understatement um when i went and looked online and all the you know you can pull up pictures on facebook and you have a great website that you can check out as well the branding is just unbelievable it’s really really good from your slogan which is consistently good consistently fast dot dot dot fry’s and you also have a logo which features a lady fry and her name is frenchy that’s right and uh so let me ask you how did you come up with such good branding for your business that was another thing when i was thinking about it i wanted to make sure from the get-go that i had my logo set i had really the brand set because if you do that from day one then anyone who sees it they’ll recognize it yes and i wanted to have something like that so our box is actually very iconic that way it’s a quart sized box it’s got peter and frenchie on it instead of having like a squares it looks a little more like diamond kind of like the old-fashioned even the chinese boxes yeah chinese food box yeah i mean yeah your branding’s really good it’s eye-catching the colors even down to the colors um and us as business owners it’s that’s a stress for us because you know once you kind of brand yourself it’s really hard to rebrand it after that so you want it to be right because if you start off on the wrong foot with your branding it’s a mess definitely um so you you hit it 100 you know out of the park first time out

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planet planet they are a world apart and a proud sponsor of local leaders the podcast uh so that’s the first thing you’ll notice when you go to his website and his facebook is the branding is really really good now big john’s fast fries offers uh i guess you call it covet safe options in addition to the dine in there they’re worth mentioning you offer drive-through you offer waiter service which includes online ordering through your website you also have carryout in addition to your dining service how beneficial was it to have that drive through because you did open in the middle of covis oh yeah i mean we were drive-through only actually for a long time we’ve only been open on the inside for maybe a month yeah um and we always allowed people you could call ahead but you still had to come to the drive through when you were picking it up and that was a huge thing in picking the actual location itself yes was you know i had to have a drive-through because we were going to be drive to only yeah when we started yeah and and that’s your heart kind of goes out for the to those restaurants that weren’t set up for that and then coveted it because if you didn’t have a drive-through or you didn’t have a patio you were in a bind you know so uh so thank god you had that and that kept you rocking and rolling even through a pandemic which is a good a good thing as well so let’s talk about your fries the best part of what you do and i want to run through your menu a little bit so what i did i printed out your menu we’re just going to kind of get people’s mouse water in here if i can put my hands on it and um so this is big john’s fast fries uh menu and we’ll get a step one on that menu which is you kind of choose your uh your i guess your spices of your fries what you put on them what do you have on those so uh our regular fries actually when we fry them we don’t put anything on it so it’s just a very very bland fry we don’t put salt we don’t put anything so when you put the cheese and sauce on it it really just holds just that cheese and the sauce flavor you don’t have the extra salt yep but if you want to add other things to it we’ve got the garlic parmesan that you can put on there and we also have i call it spicy pepper i am not from louisiana so to call it cajun might be just a little bit sacrilegious i know that well enough that’s right that’s okay i’ve been told it is definitely spicy enough good i’ll let that be up to you and it has a white truffle olive oil with it yes so because like i said we don’t put anything on them when we fry them yeah we just spray the little white truffle olive oil on there to make sure that the seasoning sticks that way you’ve got a good coating on your fries fantastic and then you get to pick your your gravy i guess on that yep tell me about that so from there you’ll pick the gravy and we’ve got our roast beef is just a good old-fashioned brown gravy tastes just like grandma’s old-fashioned roast beef and rice yum really and i’ve been told from a lot of people that i have the best roast beef in town so please come try it out let me know what you think yes and you got a potato is it yeah potato pork pita pork pizza pork that’s like you said i’ve got the male and the female fries well those were named by my son yes we we decided we were going to try and name them and well he did he did great the names we came up with that he liked the best was p tater and frenchy fries love it so we have peter pork that is our cheese sauce yep it’s more of a mac and cheese than a nacho cheese but when people go and get cheese fries that’s what they’re going to be thinking of it’s liquid cheese and it’s got just that hint of barbecue pork in it yes because i mean if you think about it when you go to have pork ribs eat it with mac and cheese yeah i just took the flavors put it together and put it on fries that’s smart yeah so it seems like common sense but it’s not it’s just an awesome blend of flavors it doesn’t seem like it should work but oh my goodness if you put it on fries it’s ridiculous oh i bet it is and then the creamy chicken the creamy chicken is your standard white gravy it tastes just like an alfredo yeah so if you put it with garlic parmesan and mozzarella i think it’s ridiculous yeah and if you pair it with pizza it actually tastes just like a chicken parmesan yes and then speaking of pizza you do have a pizza grape i do have a pizza gravy it’s just like a marinara and that one is kind of almost a magic trick because it says that it’s got sausage peppers and pepperoni yeah i’ve had multiple people if you try it wanting to have cheese pizza it’ll remind you a little cheese pizza if you want try it wanting sausage like my son loves sausage pizza but he doesn’t like pepperoni that much yes he didn’t believe that there was pepperoni in it i had to actually pull out the pieces to show to him because his taste buds aren’t looking for it so i won’t find it that’s true yeah so depending on what kind of pizza you like it actually does i’ve had people tell me it tastes like meat lovers supreme it’s what you’re looking for is what you’re gonna find and then uh my probably what would be my favorite the taco chili oh yeah that sounds right everyone’s heard of chili cheese fries yep and i just you know what could make chili cheese fries a little bit better well make it taste a little bit like tacos yes so yeah you want taco tuesday you can have chili cheese fries with that great taco flavor a little bit of spice put it on fries yes and then so you pick that folks you pick the pick the spice on the fries you want then you pick the gravy and then you come to step three which is kind of the toppings on there and you pick the cheese yup so you have mild cheddar sharp cheddar mozzarella pepper jack yeah it’s um so the reason i picked those if you get mozzarella it doesn’t add a whole lot of flavor but it will make it really creamy it’s got that nice string pull that people can get with it i mean it does have flavor but compared to the sauce you’re gonna put on it yeah it’s not gonna pull out a ton of flavor right the pepper jack is gonna add just a little bit of extra heat a little extra kick sharp cheddar gives it a real strong cheddar flavor and the mild cheddar just gives you just a little hint of cheddar flavor yeah that way i mean just depending on what kind of flavor you want to put with it it puts that on there and it puts that little bit of a barrier between the fries and the sauce yep that way until you really start opening it up and digging in it won’t start making your fries too soggy wow that sounds good and you do offer uh meal deals uh for seven bucks or something like that and tell me about your meal deals what is it so really what the meal deal is it’s your fries cheese gravy and a drink yeah and all we’re going to charge you for is your fries and your gravy the cheese and the drink are free and in the good service is awesome we do try and make sure it’s a family restaurant so we try and make sure you feel at home absolutely and you can get extras with these things folks like bacon extra cheese you can actually buy pints of the or half pints of the gravy yep so we’ve got bacon jalapenos and sour cream or the side add-ons that you can put on there yeah and i mean the bacon and the sour cream the jalapenos we put on the fries the sour cream we actually give you on the side that way you can put as much or as little as you want yum do it according the way your flavor works yeah and yes so if you wanted to just have chili or nachos at home if you wanted to make roast beef and rice and you’re in a hurry you can grab the microwave from the store grab a half pint of gravy from us for five bucks off you go you’re good yum and then now i know what y’all are all thinking uh you know he can’t have a dessert fry can he i that that can’t be possible well at big john’s fast fries it’s totally possible and yes yes he has desserts tell me about your dessert fries so our dessert fries uh somebody asked if we were gonna have a dessert and they went into all different options and i started thinking about it you know because we don’t salt fries they’re just a plain potato yeah which doesn’t have a ton of flavor to begin with well if i put powdered sugar on it it reminds you a little bit of beignet fingers or a funnel cake yeah if i don’t put any if i put brown sugar and cinnamon on it it’ll remind you a little bit of a cinnamon roll or a king cake yeah and actually that’s one of the fries that we do have is a king cake fry yep you heard that right cake fries and we have had plenty of people who told us it does taste just like a king cake oh wow it doesn’t seem like it should work it really doesn’t for most people they’re like they give you that look there’s no way yeah you say what and it sounds lovely yeah sounds good to me our signature fries are actually our king cake fries yeah and that you get two sauces with that we top it with the vanilla just like a king cake would be with sugar sprinkles so it actually looks like a king cake when you open it up yeah and the other one is an easter fry that’s with the powdered sugar and we put just about everything in it it’s got marshmallows chocolate chips chocolate white chocolate caramel are fantastically fruity which is a sauce that we make in-house and then we topped out with sprinkles and it’s just like an easter candy box yeah oh that sounds so good and he mentioned sauces so they have a raspberry sauce a chocolate sauce vanilla sauce a caramel sauce and you’re fantastically fruity contains uh raspberries blackberries blueberries grapes and pears all in one tasty sauce so uh so plenty of sauces there um and you mentioned you have the brown sugar cinnamon and the powdered sugar uh but there’s some off menu items on there like what he mentioned with the king cake that’s an off off menu item you won’t see it when you go through the drive through and it’s it’s uh it’s i wouldn’t call it a secret but it’s just not on the drive-through thing so you you haven’t doesn’t mean they don’t have we managed to just put up a brand new sign that actually does have our pancake right on there excellent and the easter fries are they on the yeah okay so there you go they’re on menu now those easter fries how about donut fries so the donut fries the reason they’re not on the menu we do give them to people all the time yeah but they would cost you the same to build them yourself right as it is to have us do it gotcha so if you just know to order donut fries if you tell us we can make it for you yes but we aren’t going to charge you extra because the signature fries actually it is a little bit cheaper yeah to have us if you just order it that way you save i think 50 cents by telling us you want a king cake fryer you want an easter fry and sure tell us what you want us to put on it whereas a donut fry it would actually be cheaper just to order what comes on it and have us put it on for you yeah there’s no there’s no doubt about that so i don’t want to charge customers extra no no i mean look it’s amazing folks what you get uh from this place so as i said earlier i do encourage you to go out there and uh and look on facebook look on his website because he’s got some good pictures on there too that you can kind of see before you go by uh and you can order online which is convenient everybody’s wanting to order online now you know and another thing if you’re in a rush if you call us and tell us that you’re coming give us an eta you can walk right inside pick it up we’ll have it ready for you oh wow that’s there you go so that’s convenient you can just call it in and and they’ll have it ready for you uh as soon as soon as you pull up i guess and you can go through the drive through you don’t have to go in you can go through the drive through and just tell them you called in an order i would imagine and they’ll get you fixed up now

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now i asked you to provide me a few statements regarding your business and uh and i one of the things i asked you was how your business stands out kind of you know other than the obvious that you’re the only person that does you know fries like you do them but you you uh actually answered that question in such a way that i want to quote it you said our business stands out from our competitors because there isn’t anyone else involved who who makes what we are making in the variety that that we offer with the taste and quality that we can deliver time and time again we have taken the french fry and tried to think of as many different ways that it can be made to taste even better and let our customers choose just exactly how they want it to be put in the box you can get loaded fries other places but i put our flavor up against anybody’s i think you nailed it right there it’s obvious the guy cares about what he’s doing he wants a quality product that’s what that kind of says to me you you have a lot of concern for consistency and quality right definitely yeah and consistency is key uh in any business really whether it’s the food business or the podcast business you want to be consistent but especially with food because that’s something that if somebody gets it and just pla you know it sets the taste buds off they want to go back again and have that same experience so that consistency is important everybody that i’ve talked to that’s had your fries that’s one thing they comment on is they taste the same whether you’re there one time or 15 times they always taste consistently good which is your slogan oddly enough so uh so shout out on that i thought you put that uh very well the way that you stated it thank you and uh and so check that out again and now we want to get to your why statement so okay we’ve kind of talked about your fries a little bit now i’m kind of wondering and i’m sure people are out there why why why does big john do this well it’s obvious big john wants to be a billionaire right you would be surprised so uh in every questionnaire that i do as as my listeners already know i ask people to supply a why statement i’m going to read a big john’s why statement uh verbatim because it is that important that i kind of verbalize this so um big john said i really didn’t even start this business with the idea of creating a new fast food chain i don’t want or care if this makes me rich i started all of this because of the parkland shooting a few years ago when everyone was trying to figure out how to stop it from happening i really did look hard at it and i saw that something could be done i want to fund a research foundation that looks into and creates a program for teachers that will allow them to use their current curriculum with targeted activities then through observation they can hopefully determine their k-5 students personality type or as close to that as can be accomplished with that information a teacher would be able to know which students might need help before they struggle no ways they should be able to problem solve and overcome those struggles they will be able to help students with communication problems with other students and to understand why they are trying what they are trying to say to help them to develop better interpersonal skills it is my hope that the program can help our youth to be stronger mentally and personally so they grow to be middle school and high schoolers and when they do they don’t get to a place where they feel alone misunderstood angry or desperate that they go to a school ready to do violence my business is merely a vehicle to fund that research i bet none of y’all expected me to say that um that’s pretty strong my brother i mean there’s no other way to put that and i really can’t disagree with any of your thought process on that um it is a concern it is a problem right in in our society what kind of makes you different is um you’re not someone that’s saying uh and and we haven’t previously talked about this but you’re not someone that’s saying you know we need massive gun control and we need to take guns away from everybody you’re just basically saying we need to while taking guns away would would uh alleviate the issue of people having guns what to me what you’re saying is we need to get to the problem yeah the problem isn’t the gun the problem is the person that’s holding the gun and they’re you know what’s going on up in their head i would imagine exactly it’s when i really started to look at the parkland shooting they talked about that student himself he had been bounced through several schools he the local police fit blends of denim springs can help you with everything from meal prep to supplements i love it that they serve breakfast all day in addition to the best ultra healthy wraps you can really get anywhere in livingston parish they are home of the five dollar smoothie friday and are an amazing sponsor of local leaders the podcast fit blends denim 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police sheriff state even the local fbi office had him written down as a possible threat and that to me says a lot of people did know that he was having trouble that he was struggling that he was angry and how did he get there how did he get to that point where he was still just so angry and there was no outlet there was no one he could talk to no one who could help him in any way and um at work i work at a plant and a lot of what we do there is root cause yeah and with that you know you look at you know how do you keep a problem from happening right you know what can you do to stop it before it even starts yes and you know i looked at with kids you know it i guess if the way i looked at it if you go 20 30 years ago you had a lot of single job families yeah dad would go he’d bring home the bacon mom was at home her job she took care of the kids she took care of the house yeah and you almost can’t do that anymore this this day and age you know one you have a lot more single-family single-parent families you have parents that both parents have to work just to make sure that all the bills are covered and you know you stop learning so much from mom how to fix things how to deal with things you know i kind of do it with my kids is when they get really upset first i tell them you figure it out yeah and they don’t necessarily like that right and when they can’t figure it out and i see that they’re getting frustrated then i come and i give them any idea i can think of that will work for them to fix the problem yeah and unfortunately i’m limited by i’m going to be able to tell them what i think would help work but i don’t know every way that would work right and you know if you look at they’ve got the myers-briggs test they’ve got the anagram test they’ve got you brought it up when we talked about it before the disk test yes you know there’s all these different things that help you to see how you think how you perceive things so what your strengths are what your weaknesses are things that you can do to try and improve yourself well a kindergarten through fifth grader isn’t going to be able to do that no but if we can figure out how using activities to essentially have them actively do the myers-brigg test or an e-anagram test or a disk test so we can figure out okay here’s what their personality type is so now we have a good idea of what they will struggle with yeah what they’re going to be good at and now you can say okay here is your list of things that should work for you well i might not have been able to think of it but this is what should work for them and then you can start to help those students in their environment help them inside what that the way that they’re gonna think wow that and you know you’re you’re exactly right um and i think that that’s an issue probably in schools all over all over the country and in teachers you know they’re kind of hamstring on what they can do they can’t get too personally involved and and uh and so it to me it would help the problem you’re being proactive instead of reactive exactly um which is you know a lot of the country now it seems like we react to a lot of things instead of proactively finding solutions before they start before the the issue becomes a problem uh and that’s what leaders do they’re proactive it’s kind of the old adage of baking yeah you know when you’ve got all your base ingredients you’re going to mix them all together which is what you’re really doing with kids you know all the way to middle school as you’re taking and putting all the ingredients together to help them learn how to be who they are well then you start mixing it together and baking it well if they had salt instead of sugar and you don’t catch that way back when it’s really hard to fix it once you get towards the end indeed i mean you have to i mean i understand yes that you can there’s a lot of things you can mask a lot of things you can disguise so yes you can react there are things you can do to try and do is prevention but it’s just that you’re just preventing a problem essentially you’re passing it off yeah it’s you’re not actually trying to solve something yeah i mean if you can go back and you can actually help someone who is going who might get to that point so that they never reach there that to me is just it’s so much a better option than just trying to react yeah it really is and and so um what what john’s basically saying there is is this business um eventually and and uh correct me if i’m wrong obviously but eventually you’d like to franchise this and and use some of those funds to kind of start a uh i guess you could say a non-profit that assists in finding solutions to this issue that we have in this country and uh and i think that’s being very proactive and you’ve obviously put a lot of thought into it it obviously struck a chord with you pretty deep uh it did to say it’s my plan is take the one i’ve got now build it into four maybe five take that be able to make the plant i was talking about before so i can do the franchises and the franchises are gonna go where they’re gonna go i mean if i turn to the next mcdonald’s taco bell whatever that’s great because that’s just more funding for it that’s right because whatever my paycheck should be for that i’m i’m honestly i’m happy with what i make now yeah i don’t plan on taking home much more than i make now so if i’m supposed to make more than that that’s just money that’s going to go to the foundation yeah it’s wow that’s fine i’ll take what i’ve got because i’m happy with my life and i’m going to use that to try and make something better wow that’s what the plan is yeah that’s huge man that’s uh very it’s just awesome it really is uh do you have any plans to put one in livingston parish i do actually i definitely do want to have one in denham springs it’s uh i’m gonna have i’ve got the one i’ve got now i’m doing one in denim i’m gonna do one in hammond and i’m gonna do one in new orleans whether or not i do a second one in baton rouge maybe gonzales maybe central or maybe two in denham springs that’s gonna be where i may or may not have a fifth one yeah time will tell on that i guess as far as that goes but we’d love to have one here in the lp uh and and get our fast fries but it’s you know you’re not far away now you’re right there on sherwood forest uh old brewbacker’s building uh for those of you just about everybody’s probably for me were brew bockers from back in the day so that’s where they’re at they’re easy you know easy to find and i guess conveniently located probably about 10 minutes from here maybe something like that from from uh yeah it’d be ten minutes yeah not bad at all so uh so don’t let the fact that it’s baton rouge just sway you if you’re in the livingston parish area uh it’s just right right down the street from us now stephanie bertholot and the crew at sr enterprise can handle it all from sheetrock to texture to paint give stephanie a call at 504-432-9284

sr enterprise where they spread the paint and you spread the word

i also asked you uh in your in your questionnaire i asked you what defines a leader another great statement that the big john makes i’m i’m like man this guy’s full of like great points so i asked him what defines a leader and big john said my definition of a leader is a person who sees the problem works to find a solution makes a plan to accomplish it and then is willing to put it put in the time and effort to make it happen someone who isn’t afraid to admit the things they cannot do and find the person who can and who won’t allow obstacles to shut them down but finds a way over and through it someone who cares about people and that are with him making it all happen now i want to say something in that that really struck me and that was when you said someone who isn’t afraid to admit the things they cannot do and find the person to do it probably one of the best pieces of leadership advice anyone could ever get um you’re you’re one of two people i’ve had come on the show another gentleman had said um i asked him what what he thought a leader was and he basically said figure out what you’re not good at and then hire someone who is uh if you’re an owner of a business but you’re a horrible salesperson hire a good salesperson the problem with a lot of businesses failing is the guy at the top thinks he or she or gal at the top they think they are good at everything and um you have to be able to admit your weaknesses and where you may you may uh not be so good and you may own a business and you’re just horrible at sales you’re just not a salesperson some people are some people aren’t hire someone to be a salesperson exactly that is good at it and uh and you would be surprised how much you grew but you also said that that was one of the best pieces of advice um i felt like anybody could ever get was recognize your weaknesses and then hire people that are good at them don’t think you’re good at everything nobody is good at everything you know unfortunately at the end of the day you know there was a leadership course that i took and there was a comment made that struck me and he was talking about you know when you first start a business it’s just you yes so no matter how many hats there are you’re you have to wear all them yes that’s right so if there’s a hat you can’t wear you better find someone who can wear it now great and you also have to understand the more you grow the bigger all those hats get so you can’t wear all of them yes again you have to continue to figure out and prioritize what do i have to do and then find the people who can do everything that you can that’s exactly right yeah and that’s that’s where people um you know the old adage is you don’t an owner doesn’t want to spend all their time working in their business they want to work on their business and if you don’t hire people all of us have to do that at the beginning you know the 16-hour day you know all of those sorts of things those at the beginning you have to do but there comes a point where if you want to grow you’re going to have to hire people you’re going to have to bite the bullet pay a little more money or whatever to get people in there because you won’t grow any other way you just can’t you know you just can’t do it all by yourself so um so you got some great advice there man uh another thing that really struck me on that now uh referrals in any business uh including big john’s fast fries those are these are important and uh and in the beginning especially when you’re starting up you kind of rely on those you want everybody to tell everybody right definitely um you mentioned mentioned some folks specifically that helped you kind of get a jump start on your business i wanted to shout them out because uh they make it you know they’ll appreciate the shout out and i thought it was really nice you to say and i also know uh know both of these people one of them extremely well so you said the best referrals i can get is word of mouth from my customers who like my food obviously and then um there were some people who were instrumental in helping me get going uh one of those would be cheryl jean with triton healthcare which is actually right here in denham spring she actually was on my show before uh love cheryl jean she is not only a top-notch physical therapist who has helped me when i had a shoulder bro surgery a few years back but also a tremendous person helped me get help helped to point me to a ton of people that helped me get going and she’s active member of a bni group here uh livingston leaders um and you also mentioned uh juan simoneaux from vivid graphics he helped you get your boxes made as well as your menu boards that you see in the restaurant but he’s also been happy to help with recommendations such as coming on jim chapman’s local leaders of the podcast definitely we both thank him for that thank you very much uh juan i appreciate that um referrals are huge and they are huge when you first start but you know what the best thing about referrals is if somebody tells you go to big john’s fast fries it’s because it was good you know it’s it’s because you enjoyed it so don’t hesitate when you go and you’re enjoying them fries to just shout them out on facebook we all like that especially when you’re a when you’re a startup business like this you can use all the help you can get out there and and social media has the numbers oh yeah so we’re on facebook instagram we’re pretty much all over the place and if you come by even if you don’t absolutely love it if there’s something you have to tell us about we’d love to hear it if you do love it please go on and just let us know what you thought yeah there you go so uh check that out and um and keep referring big john there’s a lot of people out there that have great things to say uh you also offer punch cards and we talked about this a little bit on the show um but i wanted to shout this guy out so i have a friend named steve bernard everybody in livingston parish knows steve bernard uh with client tech services and he mentioned that he goes there all the time he’s filled up like three punch cards and he called me the other day when he saw that you were gonna be on the show and he said man i love that place i go there all the time take my kids there and he said uh there’s somebody there that actually goes more than me and he was telling me he his office is also on sherwood force but to get to your place he has to make a u-turn and he’s like you know the traffic can get heavy on sherwood like when he gets off of work so he said um he said the other day he was pulling out was kind of heavy traffic and he was gonna he was gonna say ah i’ll go by tomorrow but then he started thinking about that person that has more punches than him and he actually said i hit that u-turn and i said no no because if i don’t go that person’s gonna go and they’re gonna get another punch so the mortal the story on that is uh and there’s a couple of things steve bernard is very competitive as we all know number two punch cards work uh there’s no doubt about that and number three big john’s fast fries does have punch cards what do the punch cards do uh so every time you get a meal at our restaurant we’re gonna give you a punch on that card after 12 your 13th one is free a seven dollar value oh we love free stuff and uh so there you go seven dollar value there once you fill that up uh we already talked about your goals and stuff with big john’s fast fries which was to eventually franchise it out you’re looking at possibly a second location right here in uh denham springs uh we talked about your seven dollar meal deals that you offer uh so people that are used to ordering that way they can um you’re really getting the drink for free on that just about and and uh and again on social media how important of a role would you say that’s played so far in your business like would you say that’s be you’ve been active with it and it’s really been kind of a godsend as far as that’s one thing i’m not good at yeah most owners are not believe it or not i get that a lot so actually my ex-wife who uh the only problem we had was we were married to each other yeah we’re still good friends very good uh she takes care of all my social media for me okay she has been very active yes and she does a good job of it yeah there’s a lot of different groups that we’ve gotten into we’ve gotten mentioned in several places so it has made a huge difference i did see that you got mentioned um actually and it’s funny you mentioned that no pun intended but i did see you got mentioned in a couple of uh major social media i guess you could say groups or blogs or whatever and i printed them out i just wanted to read them off i thought it was important people see that so red stick foodies which is a pretty pretty well-known uh social media uh instagram site uh was talking about your easter dessert fries at big john’s fast fries which you mentioned earlier fries topped with powdered sugar caramel raspberry white chocolate and milk chocolate drizzle marshmallows chocolate chips and sprinkles and then he wrote underneath that or she i believe this place has the friendliest drive-through servers in town dare i say friendlier than chick-fil-a that’s look that’s a shout-out compliment oh yeah right there brother um and so they must have been very happy with the service there but that goes to show you some of the things that social media can bring you from a from i guess a review standpoint uh i’m sure it made you very happy it did together i was really excited about that one i could be honest and then yes and then eat the boot which has become extremely popular on both instagram and facebook uh i’m gonna read theirs off it said slid through big john’s fast fries and got that potato pork loaded fry box if you like stuffed baked potatoes and loaded fries this is like a glorious frankenstein of flavor that brings the two together seven bucks for loaded fries and a drink check them out off sherwood forest and baton rouge great lunch and of course fast they even let me try a sample of their king cake fries too a great sweet treat that works better than it should so that’s eat the boot uh another pretty pretty well-known and a major uh media outlet as far as social media is concerned so it’s played a huge importance in what you’re doing and i’m glad to see you’re getting those positive reviews and you can check those out they do have them linked to their website so you can go there you can just click on that and it’ll bring you to those reviews so that’s a great thing there now what would you say is your most popular main item in your most popular dessert item if you had to pick a couple the most popular is going to be the roast beef yeah i mean that’s something people are most comfortable with to begin with and it like i said there’s a lot of people who do tell us that it’s probably the best roast beef in town yeah i mean we had a guy he comes through and he was the reason we call it you know an old-fashioned gravy just like mom used to make he’s a drummer a local drummer and he came in and he came through i can’t tell you how many times yeah and asked him you know what what because he always orders the exact same thing yeah and he said the first time i had it the first bite i was right back in my grandma’s kitchen down in new orleans eating roast beef i’ll sort of beat and i absolutely love that memory so i come back and i get it every time fantastic so fantastic as long as he’s still getting the memory i can’t be happier definitely our favorite there the king cake is actually our number one for dessert because i mean king cake in this area hard to beat hard to beat and uh and i’m sure i can’t wait to go by there and just get one and everything that’s what i want to do because to be honest i like every single flavor you have there’s not anything on that menu i’d be like man i i could probably do without that i want to try every one of them somebody had to pace myself but i definitely do want to try every one of those items and they all sound really good so is this tradition on local leaders of the podcast i like to cover fun facts is what we call those and it’s just kind of a fun way that we can learn more about our people uh that we have on here and i asked you a few first one i asked you was if you purchased a yacht what would you name it and you said frenchie and i know where you got that from bob of course yes after the lady on the logo so uh i asked you if you could buy a stock right now you said amazon and who can complain with that i just wish i would have bought it in like 2003 or something like that i was going to go back a couple months and buy something to be bitcoin oh yes yeah shut up did you see that i missed that one yeah so it just um bitcoin had a thing last week it shot up 15 in one day and i you know i i play around with it very sorry i mean you know i put 50 bucks in it and just see what it’ll do because now it’s kind of a hot thing to buy the the cryptocurrency and i always sell it before it goes up i make like five bucks i’m like oh yeah you know like when you go to a casino or something that for me i’m if i win two dollars i’m already going let’s go we’re uh say that i blame you we’re up so uh when you were 12 you want to be a football player me too so that’s pretty awesome uh you know and common i’m sure for for us guys and you’re kind of an athlete so you do a lot of athletic things outside of making fries what’s your favorite uh you like golf i mean you enlisted that on your thing you like to do a little golfing or top golf in any way yeah i honestly i just enjoy going to doing something that’s fun yeah i mean at the end of the day i mean i you got uptown climbing that’s in town that’s a load of fun if you’ve never been there never been there but yeah it’s indoor rock climbing it’s right by the home depot on coursey it’s tough too people don’t realize how hard that i did it one time at a fair and i went all the way and when you get up there it’s a workout i mean it’s it’s harder than it looks i guess you could say definitely so i’ll check that out that’s interesting um so uh you also want a super metabolism if you can have any superpower i want that too oh most definitely i could eat anything i wanted because believe me i want to eat everything yes yeah yeah hard to beat eaten uh and if you could travel anywhere in the world you would go to mall is it maldives the maldives mondovs okay yeah and i have seen those haven’t pronounced them very good but i’ve seen them before actually uh beautiful beautiful on the pictures i saw and you’d get a cabana right there on the ocean oh yes man that sounds awesome well you’re gonna get there we’re going to get you there and uh someday yes and you’ll be on that commandment you’ll say i remember when jim said i was going to get here so i appreciate you coming on man i’ve had a great time um again let’s tell everybody where you’re located uh and your hours of operation very important uh as far as that goes we’re at 3410 south shore wood forest boulevard and we are open 11 to 7 30. yep monday through friday monday through sunday that’s every day of the week every day of the week so there you go no no closing time there outside of those hours or closing days i should say so check them out uh and i’m gonna link all of that actually to i’m gonna link your website i’m gonna link your facebook and uh and all of that to my description in this video so folks you can just click right down there at the bottom to see everything we talked about today um and speaking of your facebook shout that out for us if you know it all hand do you know it offhand all of our facebook and our instagrams are all just big john’s fastballs yeah and you can go look it up just like that yeah absolutely google’s an amazing thing you punch in big john’s fast fries will pull up all kinds of stuff even some interesting articles you’ve had in the morning advocate i saw you have one yep we had the one letting them know we were coming and the one letting everybody know that we made it yeah so good reads so people go check that out too as well um i do want to thank everyone out there for viewing and listening to local leaders of podcast please continue to like comment and subscribe and share local leaders and share big john’s fast fries google reviews very important so i want to thank all our sponsors including tricia johnson realtor b.j pawn fit blinds denim springs planet planet landscaping sport and center black sheet creative sr enterprise painting william waldrop of twfg insurance idell lane spa boutique look at me 4d imaging and tiffany secord of homekee mortgage we can do none of this without all of you and if you’d like info on sponsoring or appearing on the show please reach out to jim at local leaders thepodcast.com until next time i’m jim chapman reminding you to love your community support local business eat lots of big johns fast fries as many as you can fit in one sitting and keep leaving thank you very much for coming on i appreciate it thank you

local leaders the podcast is proud to support mighty moms mighty moms is a community of ordinary people on an extraordinary mission to end childhood hunger in livingston parish you can find out more information by visiting mightymomsgo.org

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