Saturday, August 29, 2009

Shirley Not Mistaken: A Free-Standing Roy Rogers

Roy Rogers himself may be dead and I think his burgers, chicken and roast beef chain seems to be following down that road. In fact, I was ready to accept Roy Rogers restaurant as an endangered specie, in critical condition of extinction.

Just recently upon my travels off Long Island, I stumbled across a free-standing 80's draped Roy Rogers in the town of Shirley, near the Route 27 stretch. Thinking it was vacant upon first glance, it didn't appear to me that an empty parking lot at 9:30 AM would suggest Roy's still doesn't have a breakfast menu.

This particular location is such off-the-radar find, it even has a weirdly-placed, double-sided, now mangled road sign that's just hangin' in there -- sporting the retro sunset-over-the-canyon logo I would love to have on t-shirt.

When I was a kid, we used to go to the formerly Marriott-owned Roy Rogers restaurant chain at the Meriden Square, near (then) upper-level G. Fox (now "Westfield Meriden", ugh). Sure, it was one of the only fast food eateries at the mall at the time, but they had some distinction over the meganauts McDonald's (never really liked McD's) and Burger King (whose fallen from grace). OK, the large portrait of Roy with a wheat stem in his mouth on the wall kind of scared a tender, younger me but I always dug the unlimited, free fixin's bar no matter how smelly handed/sneezed in sanitary disaster it might've been.


ROY ROGERS LOCATIONS BY NOVEMBER 1980 (courtesy The Hartford Courant). ROCKY HILL LOCATION (NOT LISTED THERE), OPENED LATE DECEMBER 1980.

Ever since the later 1990s, the franchise-run Roy Rogers has been slowly dwindling out of many markets, leaving one oddly-newly built one in (nose-bleed) North Stonington (I know, where?) including the once well-off Connecticut market. Since 2007, free-standing locations have pulled out of Newington (US-5 & CT-15), North Haven (US-5) and Manchester (I-84, Exit 63) to name a few. A good number of former Roy's became home to up-and-coming rival roast beef chain Arby's, whose seen sizable expansion in recent years.

Now, someone go wake up the webmaster at the "hip" newly painted Roy Rogers website, tell them Manchester has been closed for over a year.

Go see more pictures on our magnificent Flickr!

23 comments:

Patrick said...

Anyone know which pad site hosted the Windsor Locks location? I assume its one of the current fast food joints along 75 by the airport.
I know the Taco Bell is a reuse building, but it doesn't have the proper shape. Any ideas?

ArnoldZiffel said...

That one in Shirley still does a good business. Considering that Mcdonald's, BK, Wendy's, Nathans, Checkers, KFC, Subway, Quiznos, and Taco Bell/Pizza Hut are all within walking distance, you would think this place would just roll over and die. But It actually is still crankin out the burgers and chicken.

Arnold Ziffel said...

Oh, and to bring it back around to Caldor, this Roy Rogers is located on the corner of the street that serves as a secondary entrance to the shopping center where one of the last newly-built Caldor stores was. I don't know the exact year the shopping center was built, but I would put it at 1994-1996.

Nicholas M. DiMaio said...

Patrick: Roy Rogers opened Windsor Locks in July 1980 and was listed at 70 Turnpike Rd., which appears to be the site of Wendy's today.

Arnold, I parked there getting some of my shots. I had no idea it was a Caldor plaza -- odd how that worked out. I also passed the former Caldor plaza in E.Patchogue on my way out -- it's in fact completely reformatted into Lowe's as you might know.

Pete R. said...

The shopping center Arnold is referring to is 1/2 mile down that road, not the new one directly across the street. That former Caldor is now a Kohls at the southwestern end of the center. The whole complex was built on the former Shirley Drive-In that closed around the late '80s. I'm glad to see Roy Rogers getting some recognition, the one in Sayville, NY (1/2 mi. west of Sun-Vet Mall) was where my brother worked, and they only closed in '94 due to Sunrise Hwy expansion. It had to be one of the top stores in the company in sales but happened to be a few feet too close to where the service road is. Que cera...

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know where the Glastonbury location was?

Patrick said...

Like Bristol, the Roy Rogers is where Boston Market is today.

mhandi said...

Great post. Most of my memories of RR are from the Garden State Parkway rest stops in North Jersey.

Do you happen to know where the Southington location was? We do have an Arby's...

Patrick said...

In the K-Mart parking lot. It's a Price Chopper plaza today with a former TGI Fridays.

Anonymous said...

Next time you go to Long Island, check out the Centereach Mall on Middle Country Road. Completely dead!

Anonymous said...

Roy's in recent years has been focusing in on the Mid-Atlantic states. Maryland, especially. They are much smaller than they used to be as a company but they don't seem to be in danger of going out of business.

Mark J said...

A Roy Rogers, wow that's a blast from the past! I still remember their curly fries and onion ring burgers like it was yesterday!

The last time I saw or been in a Roy Rogers was in around 2003 or 2004 and that was back in Newington I think.

kfan said...

I used to eat at the Glastonbury one all the time growing up. It was a Hardee's, then a Roy Rogers, then a Boston Chicken/Market, iirc.

G said...

I absolutely LOVE this Roy Rogers...one of the last places where you can actually get a burger that *gasp* tastes like a burger!

Anonymous said...

I grew up near this Roy Rogers and I regret to inform that it just shut down last month.
http://popcultureaffidavit.wordpress.com/2010/12/01/roy-rogers-rides-into-the-sunset/

Noah said...

There is a non-vacant Roy Rogers somewhere in Massachusetts! It was somewhere on the road from Forest Hills NY to Needham MA. They even have info about it on the signs and even on a billboard. I need you to check this route and see if it is still not vacant.

Patrick said...

The remaining Roy Rogers in MA is along I-84 in a truckstop with a Sbarro. It's nice. They still have the fixins bar and a good variety of the classics. However, you quickly get the feeling that it's just Sysco food and not anything uniquely Roys.
Still, if you're going by, check it out!

Jacks said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jacks said...

I worked at this Roy Rogers when I was in high school, in 1993-1994. Sad to hear it closed down. Love your blog, btw.

levitra cialis said...

I hate the junk-food restaurants such as MacDonald's and BK however I think that this restaurant has the best menu in the world !

stan said...

That Shirley, NY store was the last RR location on Long Island, and it closed 11/29/2010.

Anonymous said...

There's a free-standing Roy Rogers still open in Cumberland, Maryland, just off I-68 downtown. Pretty much still the original 80's decor too.

Anonymous said...

Patrick, you are incorrect about the location of where Roy Rogers' was located in Southington, CT. The location is where the Wendy's is, in that plaza with Ocean State Job Lot and Goodwill. The restaurants in the old K-Mart/Price Chopper plaza was where Friendly's is was a Sambo's/Sam's, then Friendly's, when Friendly's moved from a bit more north on Queen Street. Where Wood n Tap is was a TGI Friday's.