Gordon Biersch Hits Home Run with Garlic Fries

Legend has it that Dan Gordon, co-founder of Gordon Biersch Brewing Co., invented “garlic fries” while studying beer-making at the Technical University of Munich. We asked him how his popular late-night snack became the signature dish of AT&T Park, home to the San Francisco Giants, and other venues, including some mobile ones.

GoPayment: How did you invent this delicious dish?

Gordon: Because I’m American, I was frequently asked by professors in Germany to translate for them when they had visiting English-speaking professors. One day in particular, I was asked by the Czech garlic professor to translate when his American counterpart visited. We were out in the fields for about eight hours developing garlic seeds and chomping on garlic. At the end of the day, we had a meal with about 10 different dishes featuring garlic. I was so inspired by the experience that I created the garlic-and-fry combination as a late-night snack during my final exams in graduate school.

When did your garlic fries first appear in the states?

Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurants began selling Gilroy Garlic Fries when we opened our Palo Alto, Calif., restaurant in 1988. We called them “the perfect carb partner” for our beers. They were an immediate hit. Later, our first Gordon Biersch Beer and Garlic Fries concession opened in 1994 at Candlestick Park for Giants baseball and 49ers football fans. The lines that first year were always about 30 people deep and the aroma just filled the stadium.

How much garlic and potatoes go into the fries you sell during a typical Giants baseball game?

We go through about three tons of potatoes and one ton of garlic per game at AT&T Park for our garlic fries using a Dutch/Belgian method (versus fried potatoes that are only cooked once at most fast-food restaurants). Our sliced russet potatoes are blanched, then double fried and lathered in fresh minced garlic, kosher salt, pepper, and extra-virgin olive oil.

How many locations throughout AT&T sell garlic fries?

We now have eight locations throughout the stadium, so wherever you’re sitting, you can usually catch a whiff of their sweet, pungent aroma.

Where else do you sell garlic fries today?

Gilroy Garlic Fries are a particular concession for AT&T Park. For several years, we sold them at the annual Gilroy Garlic Festival, which draws about 100,000 people, but we don’t anymore. Today, Gordon Biersch Garlic Fries are featured at The Shark Tank in San Jose for the hockey team, 13 airports, and dozens of location across the country, including Yankee Stadium. At the University of Hawaii’s Stan Sheriff Arena, our garlic fries are ordered by about 25 percent of all attendees.

Are you surprised at the popularity of Gilroy Garlic Fries?

I’m surprised how popular they’ve become since we opened the first booth at Candlestick Park. I’m also surprised it’s such a big ballpark hit at AT&T Park, because it’s now the number 2 best-seller, behind hot dogs, for all concessions.

About Gil Zeimer

Gil Zeimer is the Creative Director of Zeimer's Advertising Shoppe. As a consultant with 25 years of advertising and blogging experience, he is a Mad Man who works with businesses large and small. Read his marketing musings at www.zeimer.com.
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