Final fry day is Friday

Hannah Weir calls it the end of an era in Marshalltown. She is one of the passionate local people sad that Taco John’s will no longer be serving fries after this week.

“They’ve been here since I was little,” Weir said as she ate fries Wednesday afternoon with her son Tristan, 10.

The local restaurant is widely considered by locals as one of the best in the chain for its service and its specialty menu items such as its fries.

Marshalltown Taco John’s Owner Gary Gimbel said the move is a result of a corporate decision to adhere to government menu labeling. It means restaurants can no longer offer specialty items as the chain has uniform menu items. He said many Taco John’s restaurants phased out their fries in the 1980s but the Marshalltown and Newton stores have continued to offer them.

“It’s been a tradition and it’s going to be sad to see them go, but the customers have been wonderful,” Gimbel said.

Marshalltown resident Mark Nymeyer started a Facebook page called “Finish the Fries Day” as a way to gather people at the restaurant on Friday. They are directed on the site to post photos of them with fries and send them to the corporate office.

“It’s always been a staple menu item and something that made our Taco John’s unique,” Nymeyer said.

Nearly 150 people have indicated they are going to the event on Friday.

“It’s cool that so many people out there take pride and support a local business,” Nymeyer said.

Gimbel said he’ll be ready for the expected crowds that day.

“I’ve ordered all the fries that my freezer can hold,” he said.

Nymeyer is a former employee at Taco John’s and he said he will continue to visit the restaurant even after the fries run out. He doesn’t expect “Finish the Fries Day” to serve as a movement to bring the fries back.

“It will be tough to see them go,” Nymeyer said.

Esther Betts, of Marshalltown, plans to be there Friday and is upset the fries are going away.

“They are the best fries in Marshalltown,” Betts said. “They are nice and crisp.”

Gimbel said it’s possible they will have fries through the weekend depending on how long his current supplies last.