Former fine-dining chef Eve Aronoff is celebrating the first anniversary of her Cuban-inspired fast-casual restaurant Frita Batidos in Ann Arbor, Mich., and has her eye on expansion.
Frita Batidos, which opened on Dec. 7 a year ago, is firing on all the current-trend cylinders, from the fast-casual, order-at-the-counter service style and clean, modern decor to the Latin-linked flavors and value messaging. All have led to creating a following among both students and non-academes in its home of the University of Michigan.
“I really think Frita Batidos fits in perfectly with the consumer's current lifestyle and direction for the future,” said Aronoff, a former Bravo “Top Chef” contestant.
“People are more open to different tastes, flavor profiles and ethnicities, as well as being increasingly aware and appreciative of quality,” she said. “At the same time, in this economic environment, value is a necessity, and I think Frita Batidos meets all of these interests and needs.”
The bright white restaurant has fluorescent work lights, four white-washed communal picnic tables and a distinctly industrial look. Changeable menus are written in white and light blue markers on vertical stainless steel panels, and small areas at the order counter are set aside for adult beverages and coffees.
Menu items range in price from $5 to $12, and the per person check average is $12 to $15, she said. The best-selling menu item is the frita, the spicy chorizo-based burger that’s topped with fries and served on a brioche bun. Other sandwiches include pulled pork with slaw. Tropical milkshakes, or batidos, in such flavors as passion fruit and mocha, also are popular.
“I decided to hone in on the Cuban and Latino influences because I spent a lot of time in my life in Miami, as my grandmother lived there, and just really fell in love with the spirit of Cuban culture,” she said. Many of the key ingredients, such as mango, avocado and fresh fish, have long been her favorites, Aronoff added.
Aronoff closed her Ann Arbor-based fine-dining Eve restaurant last year after nine years of operation, choosing to focus on Frita Batidos after sustaining a serious back injury and deciding a life change was in order.
“Our lease was up at Eve and the landlord wanted us to sign another five-year term,” she said. “I just looked at the situation and made a difficult decision, but decided to focus on putting my all into creating Frita Batidos and making it special. I would still love to re-open Eve at some point, but am so happy with this new challenge and change.”
Hear more about Frita Batidos from Aronoff; story continues below
While the Le Cordon Bleu-trained chef said she is very satisfied with the vibe and spirit of Frita Batidos, she is headed in the direction of streamlining the menu even more to focus exclusively on the sandwiches and shakes.
Aronoff also continues to work on the Fritas Batidos business model, streamlining it and creating organized systems.
“My dream is to have multiple locations situated in urban areas/university towns surrounded by great agriculture so we can work with local farmers and follow the seasons,” she said.