Featured photo: Kris Fuller, owner and operator of Crafted opens a new concept in downtown Greensboro on April 29. (photo by Jennifer Scheib, Greensboro Downtown Parks, Inc)
Kris Fuller is the owner/operator of Crafted: The Art of the Taco in Greensboro and the former owner of Bites and Pints and Crafted: The Art of Street Food. She has also designed menus for local restaurants including Hops Burger Bar. On April 29, Fuller’s new concept, Parkside Pull-Up, will open in LeBauer Park in downtown Greensboro. Ahead of its opening, we caught up with Fuller to talk about her new venture and future plans for her brand.
Learn more about Parkside Pull-Up at greensborodowntownparks.org/food-drink.
Congratulations on signing a new contract. Can you tell me about this new concept and how you came up with it?
The new concept is really kind of centered around nostalgia and just fun food. When I say fun food, I think about the things that we often crave but don’t often always allow ourselves to have, so I think of hot dogs, ice cream, milkshakes — things that really get the endorphins going. I wanted to keep it simple. With my other concept, Crafted, we take tacos and burgers, and we elevate it, and we really try to push the boundaries of what people expect out of a taco or burger.
But for this concept, I want it to be something that people expect but with a twist. I want it to be a good ‘ol grilled hot dog in a nice classic bun, really good chili on top, all of the accoutrement that comes with that. I want it to be what people think of when it comes to the hot dog they had as a kid or the ice cream they remember getting. That’s where the nostalgia comes in. I grew up going to a couple of places in Burlington and Mebane with my mother and grandfather and my grandmother; I wanted to bring back that nostalgia but for the modern times.
Tell me more about that. Why did you want to tap into that feeling of nostalgia?
My wife and I started last February with the journey of adding to our family and trying to have our first child. With that it was natural for me to immediately think back on my own childhood and the highlights for me and how I can incorporate that into raising my own child. And so in thinking of through all the memories, this came up. The hot dogs, the ice cream and trips to the park.
So I was thinking about family. My mom and I opened a restaurant together and now here I am opening a restaurant with my wife and my child. I also think it will be nice to have something good and solid that people find comfort in. We’re not going to be pushing major boundaries here, we just want to do good, fun food.
So let’s talk about that food. What’s on the menu?
We’ll have hot dogs, a couple of burgers with a nice, thin smashed patty. We’re not trying to do the half-pound, stacked burger. We’re just doing a good-old flat-top smashed burger. You’ll have some sort of unusual suspects on there as well to do some signature style stuff.
We’re going to have a version of a Chicago dog, a version of a NY hot dog and a couple that are unexpected. I will have some vegetarian options, some vegan options, as well as a couple of options for those don’t want a meat substitute.
We’re only serving soft-serve in the beginning and we’re going to use them for our milkshakes so they’ll be more like concretes with a nice thick mixture and we’ll blend in different toppings. But for me, the fun aspect of the soft serve is being able to dip it in different shells and different candy toppings so your flavor combos can be almost unlimited.
I know you’ve designed a lot of menus during your career. Would you say that is your favorite part of the job?
Absolutely. I was a chef before I was a business owner, so having that creative outlet and aspect is the really fun part of this. I still do consulting which allows me that and we’ll run specials at Crafted. But it is kind of fun to dream up new things and then go in and execute it to the best of our ability. Like right now, we haven’t really delved into the recipes just yet, but I have been cooking chili like crazy at home to see what style of chili I want for the hot dogs and what I can do to hopefully set it apart a little bit too.
Crafted anchors Elm Street in downtown Greensboro. Why did you settle on this new location just a block away?
We spent a lot of time downsizing our brand over the few last years in preparation for having our family. I sold Bites and Pints, sold Street Food, we did not renew our lease in Winston-Salem and that was all to downsize because of family medical issues that came up but also in preparation for expanding our family. And I said if I ever did anything again, it would be smaller and it would be in Downtown Greensboro for the accessibility of it, so when the park thing came up, it couldn’t get more perfect than this concept in that location.
I was looking at a different space initially for this, but I kind of pumped the breaks on that a bit because I didn’t feel the timing was right. And then the kiosk became available at LeBauer Park and I looked at my wife and asked, ‘What do you think about this timing?’ And she said, ‘I say you go for it.’
Do you have any other future plans for your businesses?
In downsizing Crafted, we are reshifting the focus. We will always have our Greensboro location, but what I am doing is trying to get to a point where we can franchise that concept in the very near future. You’ll see sort of a version of that at the location that’s opening in Mebane which will be owned and operated by friends of mine with me overseeing it and helping them sort of get up and running. It will be the same recipes and the same name, but I’d like to get to a point where we can offer Crafted: The Art of the Taco as a franchise option.
I find that Crafted — being that we still make everything in house and from scratch — each location needs an owner operator, and so franchising to me is the way this brand continues to grow. It also allows people who are in the business but don’t quite know what they want to do an opportunity to do something that is already established.
In Winston-Salem, it was tough on us as owners. It’s tough on the staff, the team. For me, it was putting things into perspective. With us expanding our family and not really knowing when things would smooth out, it was looking at the things that matter most. And while Winston was busy and successful, to me what matters more is being able to focus on family.
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