April 22, 2007
By: Judy Waggoner
Who: Greg Van Elzen, 31, started FiltaFry of Northeast Wisconsin, a fryer management service, in September.
“We clean fryers with a vacuum-based, deep cleaning system,” Van Elzen said. He uses a special microfiltration unit that originally was developed to filter oil for aircraft.
Van Elzen worked at a supper club throughout his college days and then as a beverage distributor to the bar and restaurant industry. He understands the value of filtering oil and bought a FiltaFry franchise territory that covers six counties — Brown, Door, Kewanee, Manitowoc, Calumet and Outagamie.
What: Hot oil fryers retain small food pieces, chicken breading, french fries and other fine particles, and restaurants regularly filter oil to extend its life.
“We have two primary objectives; to clean and maintain fryers and to remove risk from the kitchen staff,” Van Elzen said.
Often kitchens are staffed by teenagers or senior citizens who do not fully understand the dangers of oil that is heated to 350 degrees, he explained. Deep-fat fryers are the No. 1 cause of burns in commercial kitchens.
Based in Orlando, Fla., FiltaFry is a franchise that has been available in the United States for about four years and has 150 operations in 40 states.
Van Elzen runs his mobile service with one van and one other employee.
“We see some customers twice a week, but the majority are once a week and a few every 10 days,” he said.
FiltaFry customers include hotels, restaurants, bars, office and factory restaurants, diners, airports, fast-food outlets, hospitals and schools, anywhere food is fried.
What’s next: Van Elzen offers a complimentary demonstration while explaining to prospective customers how they can save money by filtering oil. After three months of operation, he was filtering 3,000 pounds of oil a week.
“I’m looking to add a second truck by the middle of summer and double my business by the end of the year,” Van Elzen said.