@RoysRestaurants #NJEats @NewJerseyFood February 16


I started the Coach4aday blog in 2014 and have done daily posts on one topic for each year. In 2014 my daily posts were on the “Beer of the Day”, 2015 it was “A Friend of a Friend”, 2016 I wrote about “North Carolina”, and in 2017 it was “Colleges and Universities”.

The one consistent piece of feedback I have received with this blog is the 2015 series on “A Friend of a Friend”. Readers and blog followers said please bring it back. The stats also back that up with the number of views each of those posts received.

So in 2018 two things will happen with the Coach4aday blog; One I plan to collaborate with a friend named John Rancke and revisit some of those 2015 “A Friend of a Friend” posts and do some new ones with a slightly different twist. I write the posts on odd numbered days each month and John handles the even numbered days.

In addition John and I will write about things we both are interested which will include basketball, food, people, music, our granddaughters, and great stories.

If you want to follow the blog via email go to the bottom right of the post and click the follow button.

My twitter handle is @coach4aday2 if you want to follow the blog that way.

John’s twitter handle is @JohnRancke if you want to reach out to him.

February 16, 2018 Where have you gone Roy Rogers?

Post written by John Rancke

 We all remember Roy Rogers, his wife Dale, his horse Trigger, and his Wonder dog, Bullet. Yes Bullet was a Wonder dog. I don’t know how a dog gets to be a Wonder dog. Perhaps around the TV filming set everyone was always wondering where Bullet was when he was supposed to be on camera. I think it was actually just to hype Bullet and put him into the same classification as Rin Tin Tin and Lassie.

Roy_Rogers with Trigger and Bullet

 Just the thought of those 3 legendary canines should be enough to convince every parent to make sure their child has a dog growing up. They could each sense danger, run for help, keep the children safe, and ever scare poisonous snakes away. My first dog was a collie. His name was Tex. Actually his name was Texas John Slaughter. I named him after a Walt Disney character from a TV show in the early 60s (may have been the late 50s). At my age it’s irrelevant. But I was never bitten by a poisonous snake nor threatened by a mountain lion.

texasjohnslaughter_1

Somewhere way back in the late 60s, in Falls Church Virginia to be exact, there arose the idea to open Roy Rogers Restaurants. Roy Rogers the actor and singer (birth name: Leonard Franklin Slye) was in his late fifties when he lent his name to a new fast-food chain from the Marriott Corporation, best known today for its namesake hotels. Few know that Marriott actually got its start in the restaurant business with a chain of roadside diners and drive-ins called Hot Shoppes.

J.W. Marriott in undated photo in front of a Hot Shoppe

hot shoppe

By the late 1960s, the company was looking to expand its portfolio and purchased several restaurant brands, including RoBee’s roast beef chain, which was based in Indiana. But when Marriott was unable to secure the national naming rights to RoBee’s, it was another fast-food titan who would give the concept its now-famous name. Bob’s Big Boy founder Bob Wain was the first to bring up the idea of a licensing deal with the “King of the Cowboys”. Wain was on the board of directors and suggested Roy Rogers as he had a national reputation and he might rent his name.

The deal wasn’t out of character for Rogers: Over the course of his career, the entertainer appeared in advertisements for foods like Sugar Crisp cereal, Nestle’s Quik chocolate drink, and Seven Seas salad dressing. Throughout the ’70s, Rogers and his equally famous wife, Dale Evans, would made appearances at Roy Rogers restaurant openings, posing for photos and signing autographs. And naturally, the brand played up the cowboy affiliation with slogans like “Say Howdy to Fresh Food”.

When I moved into Granville Towers in Chapel Hill in 1973, I walked out the back door and looked across the parking lot and there sat a Roy Rogers. Less than 200 yards away. Let’s just say that late night excursions were frequent and enjoyed. What was on the menu back then? I remember a fixins bar, which was treated as a salad bar many nights, unofficially of course. There was this delicious combination of ham, hamburger and melted cheese called a “Double R Bar Burger”.

But by the mid-1990s, Roy Rogers started to fade from diners’ consciousness. In 1990, Hardee’s bought the chain for $365 million and eventually sold most locations to other brands. Stores dwindled from nearly 650 during Roy Rogers’ peak to just 54 locations today.

After the sale of Roy’s to Hardee’s in 1990, hundreds of franchisees refused to convert their Roy Rogers restaurants into Hardee’s. .  “Market research conducted after the acquisition confirmed that consumers in the Northeast — where Hardee’s had no brand recognition — preferred the Roy Rogers name and wanted it back.” Several converted outlets switched back; but by then, the message was muddled. In the mid-’90s, Hardee’s began selling off its Roy’s locations, mostly, for the real estate: Many of those restaurants became McDonald’s or Boston Market locations.

In 2016, Roy Rogers opened six franchised restaurants on the East Coast. In July of 2017, another will debut in Pennsylvania, and more locations are being discussed for New Jersey and New York. Though its connection to highway service areas is likely why many feel fondly about the brand — roast beef sandwiches becoming intertwined with happy road trip memories — it’s not the main focus.

roy-rogerspng-da5de88982214bac

“When we describe Roy Rogers, we describe it as quality, variety, and choice,.  “The quality: the roast beef as an example, its USDA choice beef. The variety is this roast beef, fried chicken, and burgers. We call it the holy trio. Nobody does all three. Then, the choice is that Fixin’s Bar that the customer gets to choose what he or she wants on their burger or on their grilled chicken sandwich. They really just love that. That’s what sets us apart.”

On an extended visit to New England back around 2005, we were on the New York Through way/Turnpike headed south and I saw a sign for Roy Rogers at the next rest stop. I had to stop. It had been 30 years since I had eaten a Double R Bar Burger. So I walk in and there is this cafeteria style line and the sandwiches are wrapped, already prepared, and under a heat lamp. It was not something I could ever eat much less order again. In fact after 2 bites I put it into file 13.

The only fast food burger that has ever tasted good under a heat lamp was the good old Double Cheeseburgers from MacDonalds back in the late 60s and early 70s wrapped in that paper and the cheese gets gooey

But that was then there is a rebirth of Roy Rogers. I’m willing to take a trip up 95 and find a new one and try another burger with ham. Anyone want to ride shotgun!

I was sitting in my office in Wilmington at the Parks and Recreation building near Greenfield Lake and this guy walks in wanting to volunteer and get involved in some of our programming like Senior Games and Special Olympics. He sits down, we get to talking about our life’s journeys and we discover that he was working in Chapel Hill at the exact time I was living in Granville Towers. Want to guess what restaurant he was an assistant manager for!

Give me a Double R Bar Burger and a Holster of those Fries. Happy Trails Pardner

double-r-bar-burger

 

 

 

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