For a few months, every day was not a happy day at the region’s Happy Daz restaurants.
The iconic crinkle cut fries were gone at the beginning of the year, replaced with regular cut fries similar to those offered in most other burger joints in the region.
“We’re always looking for ways to improve,” said Erika Cannon, director of people and promotions for Good Food Hospitality Management, the Lima-based company that runs Happy Daz. “We felt the regular-cut fries we switched to would hold heat longer. They travelled better. They’re crispier.”
Alas, they weren’t the crinkle cut fries that had been a part of the menu at least since John Heaphy purchased the restaurants in 1996.
In the interest of full disclosure, I loved the old crinkle cut fries. I eat at Happy Daz about once a month, and I was extremely disappointed when the fries changed. It did get me to try other items there. Rather than complain, I fell in love with the corn nuggets instead.
The people on the restaurants’ Facebook page, however, were as heated up as a spud in hot oil. That’s to be expected with a change, but a few months later people were still fit to be fried.
“We listen to feedback and respond to feedback,” Cannon said. “I don’t think we’ve ever had such overwhelming feedback as we when we got the new fries and took the crinkle cuts away.”
The new product was like dipping fries in mayonnaise: OK, but not the same as a traditional dunk into ketchup. That made Happy Daz, with four Lima locations along with spots in Celina and Wapakoneta, change its potato path, announcing in mid-April the crinkle cut fries were back.
“We took away the crinkle cut fries, and boy did we hear it for a couple months,” Heaphy said in a video on the Facebook page. “We’re back with a thicker, crispier crinkle cut fry that we think you’re going to love.”
The fries you get now aren’t quite the same ones that were there before the change, Cannon explained. The new ones address the concerns the original change aimed to fix.
“It is the crispy that we wanted, and it does hold heat longer than the original fries,” Cannon said. “We still made an improvement.”
The feedback from the community helped the restaurant realize the crinkle cut fries weren’t just a side dish.
Gary and Deb Schoen, of Wapakoneta, expressed it best on the Happy Daz Facebook page: “Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!”
Cannon added, “We didn’t realize how much of a signature item they were.”
The company quickly acknowledged its mistake and made a change. It showed a willingness to admit it was wrong. It’s a lesson more companies should learn.
“Sometimes we just have to try things, and they don’t work,” Cannon said. “We’re also not afraid to say, ‘Hey, that didn’t work, and we heard you.’ We’re not afraid to change back.”