When someone says, "Roy Rogers," people either think of three things: the legendary "King of Cowboys", a sweet drink made of Coca-Cola and grenadine, or roast beef sandwiches and fried chicken. At 51 years old, Roy Rogers Restaurants has always been a staple in the fast-food world, especially in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast of the United States, serving up the holy trio loaded up with all the fixin's from the infamous fixin's bar. Years ago, stumbling upon one of the 600+ franchisees was pretty typical at travel plazas or rest stops whenever you found yourself driving, but now the fast-food chain is like an oasis in the desert. Few and far between, only 48 restaurant chain locations stand today.
All about Roy Rogers Restaurant
In 1968, a group of Big Boy restaurant franchisees opened up RoBee's House of Beef restaurants in Ft. Wayne, Indiana. Marriott Corp. acquired the restaurant with plans to expand nationwide, however during the acquisition, Arby's sued the chain for trademark infringement. Needing to change the name, Bob Wain, the founder of Big Boy's and a member of Marriott's Board of Directors, reached out to Roy Rogers, who happened to want to get into the chain restaurant business. In turn of his name and likeness, Roy Rogers would receive a licensing fee as well as payment for personal appearances at the restaurants.
The fast-food chain was booming and new locations were popping up like wildfire in New York, Maryland, New Jersey, and other parts of the Northeast. Customers dined on piled high Gold Rush chicken sandwiches, roast beef sandwiches, mashed potatoes, baked beans, and mac and cheese with plenty of condiment options. Under the control of Marriott, over 600 Roy Rogers franchises were opened, but in 1990, Marriott decided to focus on hotels, selling the brand over to Imasco, the parent company of Hardee's. Things seemed optimistic until Imasco started converting Roy Roger's into Hardee's locations. What they didn't turn into Hardee's they sold to competing brands like Wendy's, McDonald's, and Boston Market. In the end, about 50 Roy Rogers locations of the were saved.
Who Bought Roy Rogers Restaurants?
Today the Plamondon family owns the Roy Rogers Brand and is adamant on keeping the core values of the original Roy Rogers restaurant group. That means fresh never frozen, hand-battered fried chicken, 100% USDA Top Inside Round Roast Beef, Edy's hand-dipped ice cream, and a fresh Fixin's bar that puts other fast-food restaurants to shame. Their locations can be found in Virginia, New Jersey, New York, Maryland, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania. One is rumored to be opening soon on Long Island.
Co-owner Jim Plamondon is trying his hardest to get the quick-service restaurant back on its feet and in front of a younger crowd. "We're the only quick-service restaurant that has roast beef, fried chicken, and burgers all under one roof." Plamondon shares with QSRMagazine, "Nowhere else can you do that in the fast-food or the quick-serve world." The current company plan is to open up four to six new Roy Rogers restaurants per year, so keep an eye out, Roy Rogers Restuarant isn't out to pasture just yet.
This post was originally published on November 24, 2020.