Back home in the Philippines, Lance Tan (SEAS ‘23) grew up eating fries as his after–school snack. Not your ordinary McDonald's fries, but flavored fries, a common food concept in Southeast Asia. In college, noticing a gap in the snacking options on campus, Lance decided to bring a taste of home to Penn and launch his own specialty fries business. “Potato Pit Stop” was born.
“Everybody loves fries here in the US, so I decided to give it a try,” Lance says. He designed Potato Pit Stop with the goal of fueling students with an affordable and convenient snack to satisfy those inevitable salty cravings mid–study sesh or post late–night party. “I wanted to provide the same kind of accessibility, experience, comfort, and delicious flavor that I had back home,” he says.
Potato Pit Stop offers quintessential potato chip flavors in the form of a shoestring french fry. What makes these fries special—and unique from the offerings of fast food chains around campus—“is that they can be ordered and eaten on their own because of their bursting flavors,” Lance says. Currently, Potato Pit Stop has three flavors: “cheese rocket,” “barbecue burnout,” and “sour cream speedster.”
Through the clever flavor names, and the logo featuring a potato on wheels, Potato Pit Stop embodies an auto racing theme. The motif was inspired by Lance’s interpretation of the college journey. “We're all like little cars on this racetrack that go around, trying to hit that finish line and graduate," he says. "The fundamental thing that every car needs is fuel, so I was hoping that this business would be a fun way to help students get through this journey."
As an avid foodie who cooks frequently, Lance developed his flavored fries test–kitchen–style with potatoes, his air fryer, and some seasonings. “I have this taste palette from traveling a lot and from having lived in Southeast Asia. A different type of food scene is out there, and I think this is something people on campus would love to try,” he says.
After months spent developing and perfecting his product, Potato Pit Stop is now in full swing.
Lance cooks his homemade fries in his college apartment, operating a “ghost kitchen” business model, where people can order the fries directly through this Google Form and Lance will hand–deliver them to numerous locations around campus. Currently, Potato Pit Stop delivers fries between the hours of 2 p.m. and 1 a.m., guaranteeing ultimate freshness and crispiness. “With these delivery hours, I wanted to capture both the daytime market as well as late night studying and activity that goes on around campus,” Lance says.
Lance plans to continue marketing his business through word of mouth and also hopes to partner with various clubs on campus. “Although my footprint is not big yet, it's been great to get feedback from the customers, my friends, and people I know here at Penn,” he says.
A fifth–year submatriculate in the School of Engineering and Applied Science, Lance never expected to enter the food industry. While he plans to work in finance after graduating this spring, Lance says, “If this is something people love, then there’s definitely potential that I will continue running this business in the future.”
Whether you wish to satisfy a midday craving or need to refuel during a late–night study session, be sure to place an order of Potato Pit Stop fries and experience a taste of Lance’s childhood.