Walmart will open its first State Fair Treats location on Sept. 20 in a Plano, Texas, store, bringing an award-winning fried-foods competitor to its retail customers year-round.
The restaurant will be operated by Isaac Rousso, who has won numerous awards for his State Fair of Texas concessions. Rousso said the Plano opening of the State Fair Treats outlet is the first of several he plans to open with the Bentonville, Ark.-based retailer.
Walmart has worked with regional foodservice companies in the past, such as a now-expired partnership with Dallas-based quick-service chicken concept Pollo Campero. The company also works with such large-scale companies as Subway and McDonald’s for foodservice in its stores.
Rousso, who said in a statement that the State Fair of Texas is “the heartbeat of everything I do,” has a long history with fair foods. He will also be featured as the Most Creative Big Tex Choice Award winner for the second consecutive year when the exposition runs Sept. 30 through Oct. 23 in Dallas.
Rousso won this year for his State Fair Cookie Fries, which resemble crinkle-cut potatoes but are confections served with chocolate chips, sprinkles and either strawberry or chocolate sauce.
State Fair Treats will feature a retro-themed décor with a 45-item menu celebrating similar foods. Besides the Cookie Fries, Rousso’s other wins include Smoky Bacon Margarita, Deep Fried Cuban Roll and Fried Pop Tart.
Rousso said Walmart approached him during the 2015 State Fair of Texas. Representatives from Walmart had not returned emailed questions by press time.
“Walmart was looking for a creative new food concept to energize high-profile locations,” Rousso said. “During the State Fair of Texas, we have the opportunity to serve more than 2 million people during the fair’s 24-day run. At our first Walmart location alone, we’ll have the chance to see 1.5 [million] to 2 million people per year.”
Born in Dallas of Cuban immigrants, Rousso and his family have gone from operating a single booth, Taste of Cuba, at the State Fair of Texas to also operating the Magnolia Beer Garden, Magnolia Pavilion, Magnolia Smokehouse and the Craft Beer Terrace.
“Isaac and his family embody what the State Fair is all about,” said Carey Risinger, the Texas fair’s senior vice president of food, beverage and retail, adding that includes “families working hard to help other families have a good time during their visit. They are the best — full of passion for what they do.”