After weeks of rumors and speculation, eegee’s has finally confirmed five new locations opening throughout the Valley next year, including two in Gilbert.
Beginning in the second quarter of 2021, the Tucson-based fast-food favorite with a cult following will open on the southwest corner of Baseline Road and Val Vista Drive and near San Tan Village.
Eegee’s CEO Ron Petty said said his company has had plans to expand north for five years.
“By the end of next year, I’ve pretty much tapped out in terms of growth in Tucson. I’ll have 33 stores by the end of the next year in Tucson. Passed that, it’s going to be more and more difficult to grow anymore in Tucson,” Petty said.
Petty has plans for a Phoenix takeover, but said, “We’ve got a lot of work to do.”
“You have one million people in Tucson; we’ll have 33 to 35 stores here. And you’ve got five and a half million in Maricopa County. So, there’s a lot of growth to be done in the Phoenix metroplex area.”
Up until now, eegee’s presence in Phoenix has been limited to selling the famous fruit drinks at other brick and mortar stores, including Blimpie restaurants.
“They’re not part of eegee’s,” Petty explained. “They’re simply a wholesale customer that we sell product to and they sell it within their facilities. We did it first with Blimpie and their stores, and then several other individual wholesale accounts have gotten it. It’s a minor, very minor piece of business.”
And while eegee’s frozen fruit drink is the award-winning fast-food chain’s No. 1, best-selling item, it also is known for its grinders and ranch fries, which are discussed at length online, including and especially on Reddit.
“We use a crinkle cut fry… it’s probably the best fry on the market,” Petty said.
“And then we manufacture our own ranch dressing, which is a proprietary recipe. Anybody that’s had it say they’ve never had a better ranch dressing. We don’t hardly use any ketchup for the restaurants. Everybody dips their fries in ranch dressing.”
But nothing beats eegee’s frozen drinks, available in fruity flavors such as cherry cider, lemon, Piña Colada, lucky lime, orange dream, watermelon – their most popular flavor – and many more.
“We’re constantly doing R&D [research and development] for new flavors,” Petty said.
After eegee’s 1971 launch, Tucson Weekly reported that the fast-food chain served 2,500 gallons of eegee’s drinks yearly.
That number has exponentially increased. “We do over one million gallons a year,” Petty said.
Petty’s favorite menu items? The strawberry eegee’s and the hot pastrami on rye. “It’s just a really, really good sandwich,” he said.
The eegee’s menu continues to evolve, too.
Its Casa Grande store is currently testing new products and improving upon their staple products, including their fresh-baked bread.
“We just made a decision to continue with improving particularly the bread. So, we made some changes that’s going to substantially enhance the bread. We’re constantly looking at proteins,” Petty said.
“And coming out of that test will give us direction on where we go with the Phoenix menu,” he continued.
Over the past 15 years, eegee’s has donated more than $3 million to local charities.
“We’re very much known in Tucson for giving back to our community, and we’ve done a great job in building a relationship with the community, and we’ll continue to emphasize that in Tucson,” Petty said. “We’ll have a separate emphasis on community involvement up in the Phoenix area.”
“It’ll take a while up there to get to that level, but once we have 20, 30 stores, it’ll be a significant number,” he continued.
Visit eegees.com/phx for updates on next year’s Valley openings.
“We look forward to becoming a part of the Phoenix metroplex, through job creation at our five new restaurants, charitable giving, and of course, our trademark frozen eegees,” Petty said.