116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
MARION — A new restaurant has brought salty and sweet treats under one roof in the Uptown Marion district.
Frydae, 743 10th St., opened June 8.
After thinking about opening a cheese store and a charcuterie business in the storefront Kelsie Hoth has owned with her husband for three years, the idea was sparked for the aptly-named combination of street french fries and ice cream.
“I got the idea for Frydae from dipping fries in Wendy’s shakes,” Hoth said. “What goes better (together) than fries and ice cream? I can’t believe that isn’t a thing somewhere else.”
Where: 743 10th St., Marion.
Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday; closed Monday.
Phone: (319) 200-4550
Website: Find Frydae online through Facebook.
Details: Frydae’s made-to-order street fries and shakes take some time, so be prepared to wait. Orders available for carryout and dine-in. Seating inside is limited.
“Several different concepts have gone in and out of (their space), and we thought we should do something,” she said. “This is a prime location.”
And with an area of Marion evolving with new businesses, maybe it’s time tried-and-true fries and ice cream got a few new varieties to try out.
Street fry options include a variety of made-to-order options with flavors from around the country and the globe, like Mexican street corn fries with queso fresco and jalapenos; Canadian poutine with gravy and fresh cheese curds; Korean barbecue kimchi with a spicy Boom Boom sauce; or Baltimore crab fries with Maryland-style crabcake crumble and Old Bay seasoning.
The most popular fries so far are the Uptown bacon cheese fries with cheddar cheese sauce, sour cream, chives and ranch. Second-most popular is the Kansas City barbecue pork option, made with pulled pork.
Any of their fries can be ordered in straight cut, waffle or sweet potato varieties.
The loaded milkshake menu is just as creative, with options like Candyland topped with cotton candy and sour rainbow candy; strawberry cheesecake topped with locally-made confections; and the Dirt Cup made with Oreos and gummy worms.
“Pretty much every child gets Candyland because it’s so pretty,” Hoth said. “The Cereal Killer (made with Fruity Pebbles) is popular, too.”
Some colorful toppings, such as the cheesecake that tops the strawberry cheesecake shake, come locally from partners like Sweet Cheesecake in Marion. Frydae hopes to partner with more local businesses in the future for topping collaborations that bring all the fixings.
If you order the shake in a Mason jar, the glass jar is yours to keep.
Regular scoops of their ice cream collection from Ashby’s are available for those looking for something simpler, with novel flavors like Cookie Jar, Jacked Up Tennessee Coffee, Key Lime Pie and Puppy Chow.
Scooping through about 100 gallons of ice cream each week since opening, it’s an understatement for Hoth to say her hands have gotten a bit sore.
With long lines since opening, Hoth said customers should plan to stick around a little bit for their orders. The custom shakes take two to four minutes to make, and some hours they have several dozen shakes on the line to be mixed.
“It takes a little bit of a time, but most people are pretty impressed with the quality they receive,” the owner said.
After being a silent partner in new restaurants like Iowa City’s Ramen Belly, and with experience working at Texas Roadhouse and the Irish Democrat, Hoth decided to start a place of her own. After nine years, she left her previous job as a human resources director in August. In addition to the new gig with Frydae, she runs a property management company with her husband, Jamie Hoth.
What makes one leave the security of a human resources position for the physically demanding work of running a restaurant?
“I ask myself that sometimes too, now, because I’m working 100 hours a week. I just got over it — it was a lot of mental exhaustion,” Hoth said. “Now it’s a different kind of exhaustion.”
And although she’ll miss paid vacations and a 9 to 5 schedule, she’s harnessed a passion that is so far proving to be a success in the niche restaurant concept.
“I think it’s going to be a lot of work for a while, but our concept has proved to be accepted by the community,” Hoth said. “I feel like we’ve created something pretty cool here, and there’s a ton of potential to evolve it.”
With art to enjoy behind Frydae, and nearby bars without food, the property manager said the new concept is a great fit for the area with investment that brings life not just to her restaurant, but nearby businesses in Uptown Marion.
And in an industry facing an employee shortage, she said she’s been fortunate to find a few dozen people to cover shifts — many of them high school students — during the summer. She has plans in place to ensure the restaurant runs year-round.
“We’ve been super busy here,” Hoth said. “I think the big thing that pays off is we’ve invested in this block here and it’s really awesome seeing this place packed.”
It’s a sweet, community-oriented feeling, she said.
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