GARDENA, Calf. (KABC) -- The COVID-19 pandemic has hit small businesses hard, but one Gardena restaurant owner was able to expand his business even during a pandemic.
Craig Batiste, otherwise known as Mr. Fries Man, wanted to start a business that was unique.
"It started in my backyard in 2016," Batiste said.
With $400 and support from his family and the community, Batiste got to work selling fries. He was eventually able to open his first location in Gardena.
"Me and my wife did it all on our own no bank loans, no investors, just hard work and dedication and the support of everybody who come out," Batiste said. "And that's a blessing."
Though the pandemic is ongoing, Batiste's business continues to thrive.
"I love this food here and if you guys want some good food come to Mr. Fries," said William Anderson, a Mr. Fries Man customer.
Not only was Mr. Fries Man able to stay afloat during a pandemic, they were also able to franchise, with the Inglewood being the first franchise location.
"It's great to see that especially once they figure out like 'OK, there's a Mr. Fries Man in Inglewood'," said Dom Griffin, general manager Mr. Fries Man Inglewood. "They always spread the spread the news, pass out our flyers. The growing support is actually amazing."
Besides family and community support, there's one other thing that Batiste contributes to his success.
"Social media plays a lot," Batiste said. "Basically, it's the news nowadays."
With over 350,000 Instagram followers, Batiste said social media plays a big part in his success. He takes all the pictures and manages all the social media accounts and he said he loves doing it. His biggest tip is to use hashtags.
"It's a blessing to give people opportunities and to become their own boss," Batiste said. "And give people job opportunities to at the same time."
Mr. Fries Man in Gardena is located at 14800 S. Western Ave. #108 Gardena, Ca. 90249.
Mr. Fries Man in Inglewood is located at 1120 W. Florence Ave. Suite C Inglewood, Ca. 90301.
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