Walmart is getting one step closer to turning into a full-blown circus. This week, news broke that the massive retail chain would soon be testing out a new restaurant—aptly titled “State Fair Treats”—at its Plano, Texas, location. Unsurprisingly, the restaurant will be all about the fried, sugar-coated hodgepodge of foodstuff once can buy on the fairgrounds.
The idea comes from the brain of Texas State Fair food competitor Isaac Rousso. Earlier this year, his cookie fries were dubbed the “Most Creative” item at the fair’s Big Tex Choice Award, and in the past he’s won for inventions like the smoky bacon margarita, deep fried Cuban roll, and the fried Pop Tart. Somebody please give this guy a Michelin star already.
With that kind of artery-clogging ingenuity at Rousso’s disposal, what will his new collaboration with Walmart look like exactly? The restaurant’s 45-item menu will of course feature Rousso’s award-winning cookie fries, as well as more standard, cholesterol-infused fair fare like corn dogs, funnel cakes, and deep-fried hash browns stuffed with bacon and cheese.
“Walmart was looking for a creative new food concept to energize high-profile locations,” Rousso told the Dallas Morning News, clearing campaigning for his next gig as the chef de cuisine at Noma. “They loved the idea of finding someone who was able to create something fresh and innovative.”
Rousso doesn’t intend on keeping a set menu; instead, he’ll be adding new creations to the restaurant’s repertoire every fall, likely after he’s debuted them at the Texas State Fair. Right now, Walmart has partnered with McDonald’s to offer customers something to snack on while they shop. But Rousso believes there’s a future in fair food rather than fast-food.
“There are many, many McDonald’s that are going to be transitioning out of Walmart stores,” he said. “We’re going to be looking at every opportunity as they transition out, to jump in.”
Though the restaurant in Plano opens later this month, Rousso anticipates opening 15 State Fair Treats at Walmarts throughout Texas by the end of 2017. At the moment, he’s the financial-backer behind the venture, and Walmart is merely acting as landlord in the deal. But if all goes well, Walmart may consider making the restaurants a nation-wide staple.
Between its gun selection, roaming ponies, and exclusive rights to sell deep-fried Twinkies, Walmart has basically existed as an indoor state fair for years. The company might as well just make it official.