It is a fried food lover’s dream with a Haitian twist.
Fried pork, fried turkey, fried plantains, fried grated malanga and a fried spicy dough called marinad — these are among the offerings prepared by Ludie Joseph, who co-owns Fritay Restaurant in North Miami with her son Ludvy.
Fritay is fried Haitian street food. Roadside food vendors in Haiti can often be spotted at busy thoroughfares selling their goods in brightly colored plastic baskets..
“We wanted to do something that reminded us of Haiti,” Ludie Joseph said.
Every dish comes with a side of pikliz, a spicy vinegar-based slaw
Ludie Joseph runs the kitchen. It is there that she cooks up nostalgia for Haitians who travel from all over South Florida to try her dishes and introduces non-Haitians — who often become repeat customers — to a taste of her homeland..
Ludvy Joseph, 32, is in charge of everything else. He’s not allowed in the kitchen, he jokes.
“I don’t bother what she does in the kitchen, and she doesn’t bother the other stuff,” he said.
The Florida International University graduate said the restaurant is his American dream.
When the Josephs came to Miami from Haiti in 1999, Ludvy Joseph said, he dreamed of opening his own business someday.
As a child in Haiti, Ludvy Joseph already had an entrepreneurial spirit. In elementary school, he opened a snack bar in his parents’ home. During recess and afterschool he sold candy, peanut brittle and Ti Carol — a frozen Haitian treat — to his classmates and neighborhood kids.
“Since I was 9 years old I was a businessman,” he said.
For first-timers at Fritay who aren’t sure what to get, there is a value menu to sample the fried treats at $1.99 or less. The main menu offers a variety of pairings and options for up to $14.
The small eatery, tucked inside a Northwest Seventh Avenue strip mall, also has a philanthropic mission. Each year, it gives out scholarships to local college-bound students of Haitian descent.
Through the restaurant’s nonprofit component, Fritay Foundation, the Josephs sponsor kids in their hometown of Cap-Haitien and pay for their education.
“There are people out there who need the boost and help to get to this point,” said Ludvy Joseph. “They need to see someone like them who succeeded.”
When Ludvy Joseph arrived to Miami, he got a part-time job working at Popeye’s chicken restaurant to make a few extra dollars while he worked on his bachelor’s degree in finance and international business.
In 2008, he opened Fritay across the street from the North Miami Popeye’s where he once worked.
“It felt really good,” he said.