On Thursdays through Sundays, customers may order online; pay via an app such as Venmo, PayPal or CashApp; send a screenshot as proof of payment; then pull up in front to pick up supper. The owners call this their french-fry speakeasy.
And, they say Puncho’s Old Atlanta, Seafood Shawty and 96 Olympics recipes have been influenced by iconic local institutions, such as Paschal’s, the Sweet Auburn Curb Market and the Varsity, as well as “your corner wing spot” and “the lady down the street” who serves plates of fried fish out of her kitchen.
“I’d like to think of us as a conserver of history, while being the face of the future,” Williams said.
Added Blanding: “For Black folks from Atlanta, having a sense of ownership of where your home is is really important, particularly in a city that is gentrifying so much.”
Brandon “Puncho” Williams is the co-owner of Puncho’s Late-Nite Fry Trap. Wendell Brock for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Credit: Wendell Brock
Credit: Wendell Brock
Even the name of the business is a Black culture reference. As Williams explained it, “trap” is a slang word, meaning “your place of business, or your hustle, so to speak.”
“The idea of trap in music has a whole lot of connotations,” he said. “But, for us, it’s where we sell fries. It’s where we speak fries. It’s where we speak Atlanta. It’s just where we do us.”
Williams, 37, caught the entrepreneurial bug at 15, while working at a McDonald’s near Hartsfield Jackson International Airport. When he got his first paycheck, he noticed it wasn’t from McDonalds, but from a successful Black entrepreneur who had built a portfolio of local McDonald’s franchises. “I realized that was something I wanted,” Williams said. “Since then, I have been on an entrepreneurial path.”
Blanding, 35, co-founder of the art film company House of June, said running a small business did not come naturally to her.
“I came kicking and screaming on the entrepreneurial side, because I’m such an artist. But, honestly, fries have been a paramount reason of why I’m still able to pursue filmmaking full time,” she said. Her short films include “Levitate Levitate Levitate” and “Ten Leaves Dilated.” Blanding’s latest project is “Jordan,” which her website describes as “a short but epic tale about a curious adventurer and tween girl making a big discovery in a place where fantastical happenings are least expected to everyone but her.”
On the Friday night I ordered my fries, I arrived a bit early, and was greeted by a couple of neighborhood kids who offered to give my car a wash. They had the seal of approval from Puncho’s, which has plugged them on Instagram.
I texted Puncho’s that I had arrived, and, soon, Williams appeared outside with my fries. When I told him I’m a fry addict, he responded: “Well, you’ve come to the right place!”
He suggested that, if I couldn’t wait until I made it home, I should trot across the street, to Pittman Park, and dig in.
Editor’s note: Puncho’s Late-Nite Fry Trap is in the process of moving; check Instagram for updates on how to order and where they’ll be moving.
PUNCHO’S LATE-NITE FRY TRAP
Menu: loaded fries
What I ordered: The Old Atlanta, Seafood Shawty. The fries were good, and quite filling. The Shawty usually includes crab and shrimp, but Puncho’s was out of crab. “Blame it on the food shortage,” co-owner Brandon “Puncho” Williams said. “It’s a real thing.”
Service options: order online for pickup; no dine in; no delivery
Outdoor dining: no
Address, phone: 291 Delevan St. SW, Atlanta; 678-962-7848
Hours: 5:30-10:30 p.m. Thursdays-Sundays; also open Wednesday, June 7; hours are subject to change; check Instagram for updates
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