Poutine is hot, and it’s not just because a record number of Americans are considering a move to Canada. Earlier this year, Smoke’s Poutinerie announced plans to open eight East Coast locations, at least one in Center City. And soon — likely before that Toronto-based chain gets here — Philly will get a homegrown option for loaded fries.

Shoo Fry, which began life as a pop-up in the King of Prussia Mall, will go into 132 South 17th St. Just south of Sansom Street, the below-ground space was home to Underdogs, which has ended its four-year run serving creatively-topped franks and sausages because proprietor Robert Amar is moving on “to do other things.” (Expect the Philly restaurant vet to resurface in a new food business soon.)

Run by husband-and-wife team Matt and Rachel Baiada, Shoo Fry will offer a three types of fries covered with various meats, vegetables, sauces and cheeses, plus a selection of sliders and hand-spun shakes.

The Baiadas, who also own a Cold Stone Creamery in Springfield, explain that Shoo Fry is more than just a poutine shop. Instead, they call it a “classy French fry bar.”

“We wanted to take the ‘burgers, fries and shakes’ concept and flip it so that the fries are the star,” Matt explains.

He and Rachel, who were high school sweethearts and have run various Cold Stone Creamery outposts since 2006, created a menu of pre-designed fry-combos. There’s classic curds and gravy poutine, but also creations like “Cheesesteak Fries” with steak, onions and whiz and “Pig and the Giant Peach,” which sees pulled pork, diced apples and peach-ginger sauce atop the potatoes. Matt expects to add a dish with scrapple, and there are sweet-combos like PB&J that sold surprisingly well during the pop-up test.

They also plan to make it easy to build your own, Chipotle-style: Pick a base (classic, curly or wedge fries), add a protein (cheesesteak, chili, chicken, pulled pork, etc.) and toss on toppings, which range from coleslaw to peanuts to wing sauce.

All sauces are made in-house, fries are hand-cut, and ingredients are sourced locally whenever possible.

“The local connection is really important to us,” says Matt, a native of South Philly. “And of course, the name is a play on ‘shoofly pie.’”

The Rittenhouse shop will be the first permanent outpost of Shoo Fry, but the Baiadas have signed with Franchise Freeway to expand, so expect more stores to follow. They’re currently on the lookout for a location in Fishtown, and plan to open several in this region before branching out to other cities like Washington DC.

“Our plan was to test out the concept in KOP, and then try to open a store ourselves, but then the Franchise Freeway guys came to us,” Matt says. The partners in that DC-based business were responsible for growing the Five Guys brand, he continues, so they have an impressive record.

At Shoo Fry, prices will range from around $4 to $7 for the loaded fries, $2 per slider and $5 per shake. Hours will be similar to Underdogs, which did great late-night, post-bar business: 11 am to 9 or 10 pm on weeknights and through 3 am on Friday and Saturday.

Opening is targeted for late April or early May.

Danya Henninger is director and editor of Billy Penn at WHYY, where she oversees the team, all editorial decisions, and all revenue generation — including the membership program. She is a former food...