When James and Johanna Windon, founders of Buena Papa Fry Bar, swam into the “Shark Tank” seeking a $400,000 investment for a 7% stake, they didn’t expect the tide of public opinion to turn against them so swiftly. Despite landing a deal with Robert Herjavec, fans of the show have criticized the decision, pointing out that the business was already in $70,000 debt.
The Windons’ eatery specializes in gourmet fries inspired by international cuisines. Their first outlet raked in an impressive $1.1 million, and their newly-opened second location has the pair forecasting revenues upwards of $2 million. These numbers, along with their expansion into franchising, should paint the picture of a business poised for success. But does the backstory align with the big picture?
Shark Tank: Rapid Expansion vs Business Prudence
After the episode aired, a storm brewed on Reddit, where fans discussed the merit and logic of the deal. One user commented, “Another pitch where people are trying to grow too fast. What’s wrong with just building up a single restaurant for a couple years. Learn the market. Test drive everything. Learn the mistakes. Then move onto another location once perfected.” Others echoed this sentiment, calling the idea of franchising after only two stores “insanity.”
To add to the skepticism, some Reddit users pointed out that the business had an average rating of 4.1 on Google reviews. User critiques ranged from the practicality of the dishes to the lack of vegetarian options.
Shark Tank: The Current State of Buena Papa Fry Bar
If you’re curious to taste what the fuss is all about, Buena Papa currently operates in three locations in North Carolina, with a fourth slated to open in Miami’s Wynwood district. They also serve their culinary delights during Carolina Hurricanes hockey games at PNC Arena in North Carolina.
For a more in-depth look into the business, check out their official website. Operating hours and further details are available on the site.
In a recent development, Buena Papa Fry Bar hosted ‘Thriving Through Food,’ a digital series presented by Pati Jinich, renowned host of the PBS series ‘Pati’s Mexican Table.’ The segment lauded the Windons for their “genius mashup” of fries that serve “as a vehicle to introduce locals to Johanna’s native Colombian cuisine.”
The business also gained recognition in the ‘Raleigh’ episode of the ACC Network travel program ‘3-Day Weekend,’ hosted by Jess Roy, this October 2023.
For those interested, ‘Shark Tank’ Season 15 continues to air on ABC on Fridays at 8 pm ET.