Poynor’s Pommes Frites: How It All Got Started
1. When and how did Poynor’s Pommes Frites begin?
The Poynor’s Pommes Frites Story began in June 2008… My Family and I had been living in Southern IN (Seymour / Columbus Area) since 1991. A transfer with my job moved us there from Nashville TN. During the many years in the area, we visited several Churches looking for a “home” and finally found Seymour Harvest Church in the mid 2000’s. In June 2008, the Pastor made this announcement, “The Praise and Worship Team have been invited to Nairobi Africa to participate in an Outdoor Conference to be held in June 2009”. A monumental task laid ahead though to get 10 Team Members and some their family members to the destination for 10 days: airfare, transfers, rooms and board, etc… = $$$$. My wife and I were part of that Praise Team and we included our 2 sons as part of the ‘crew’. Our 1st Mission Trip as a family and a total of 18 folks were destined to make the trek and experience God in another land…WOW!!!
Idea’s were needed to raise the funds for this adventure. By the time he had explained the high level details, I already had an idea that could make it happen or at least help – German Pommes Frites and the Local Annual October Festival.
A little background about the idea: I grew up in the Military, with my Father being in the Army. One of the ‘perks’ of Military life, is being transferred from base to base (called tours) every 2-3 years. During the 18 years I lived at home and relocated with my parents, I had the opportunity to spend 2 tours in Germany.
Over 30 years after leaving Germany – I met with the Pastor after the Service and explained my Pommes Frites idea and the possibility of participating in the local October Festival. Several things needed to happen: get access to the Local Festival which was less than 4 months away, find the Pommes Frites process / recipe, construct a booth to sell the final product, raise the funds to obtain the required supplies and equipment, etc… So the work began.
I had several discussions with the Local October Festival Committee and Seymour Harvest Church was finally granted access to the Festival as a Non-Profit Organization, BUT, the location would be in a remote space away from the normal ‘food booths’. We took the space regardless.
God Is Good!!! The proceeds from the 1st Festival supplied enough funds that the folks going to Africa only had to invest $300 per person for the trip and enough was set aside for the expenses of the next Festival, which by the way, once you’re in a Festival, you’re in until you decide to leave and give up the space. The following 6 years, extra funds were used to send folks into other Mission Fields, help people in need, Church expenses, etc…
2. What are “Pommes Frites”?
You’re probably wondering, “What are Pommes Frites?” – allow me to explain – during our last tour in Germany (1973-1976), Pommes Frites were sold on most every street corner via Bratwurst Stands or Hot Dog Stands. The Vendor had a device similar to a large flour sifter, but instead of a screened bottom, a die was attached to the bottom section that was perforated with 1/4″ – 1/2″ square openings that allowed a mashed potato mixture to take the shape of fry’s when the handle on the sifter was triggered. This mixture would drop into a hot fryer and within a couple of minutes the customer was presented with a piping hot order of Pommes Frites. The actual definition means – fried potato.
3. Why did you choose German food?
I have to give God the Glory. He dropped the idea into my thoughts that Sunday Morning and I just ran with it. My original thoughts only included the Pommes Frites for the Church, but as I seriously considered the larger picture over the next few years, German Bratwurst came into the plan, along with the German Hard Roll called a Brötchen, and the German Mustards. Before I knew it, I was creating the local corner Bratwurst Stand that I grew up loving.
4. How do you think up the different Pommes Frites dipping sauces? How many are there?
During the 1st October Festival, we created 3 sauces, Black Forrest, CucKoo (pronounced Coo Coo), Peppercorn Ranch and also offered Cheese & Ketchup. Two of those, the Black Forest (creamy roasted garlic) & CucKoo (horseradish base) have become our House Signature Sauces of today. As to creating them, we live in a world full of sauces. One sauce everyone talked about was the dipping sauce for the Onion Blossom (Outback & Texas Road House). I always thought the sauce needed more flavor, so, our recipe upped the horseradish level and added few other herbs & spices to create a unique and more flavorful sauce that everyone loved. It was a total hit! The Black Forest was a collaboration of several folks who loved garlic and many tastings to allow the garlic to stand out amongst the other added flavors to create an extra creamy dry roasted garlic sauce. Once you determine a good base for a sauce, several can be created by the addition of different spices, herbs, sweets, heats and even fruit. To date, we have approx 60 original in-house dipping sauce recipes and typically run about 30 flavors during business hours.
5. Have you visited Germany since you’ve started your business?
I’ve not visited since I left in Dec 1976. My wife has expressed serious interest in going and hopefully, one day, we’ll make the trip.
6. Why did you choose The Island in Pigeon Forge as the home for Poynor’s Pommes Frites?
In October 2012, I took an early retirement option from Hewlett Packard to bring the Pommes Frites idea to the general public. As I started my search for a location, requiring large amounts of foot traffic, Pigeon Forge seemed to be an ideal location. Also, Tennessee is our home. My Wife and I are from a small town just a few miles west of Knoxville in Loudon County. After many visits to Pigeon Forge, I found “The Island” under development and contacted the folks in charge and we opened the 1st Poynor’s Pommes Frites in July 2013.
7. What are some of your most memorable moments with guests?
Excellent question – I love it when Military folks come in that have served in Germany in years past. I love to watch them bite into a Brat, shut their eyes and a smile always comes across their face. I know they’re experiencing Germany all over again through the flavors and textures. I’ve been there and do it often. We are always told, “taste just like it did while I was in Germany!” I love seeing it on their faces.
8. Why do you love what you do?
There’s something about smells and flavors that always awaken wonderful memories of times past. One of my favorite aromas is fresh corn on the cob heating in a pot. As a child, when visiting my grandparents, my Grandmother always had it on the stove, and, to this day, it reminds me of her kitchen. I Love the fact that we, at Poynor’s Pommes Frites, can do that for a lot of folks. Thank You Lord.