Once a popular fast food chain, with locations scattered across Long Island during the 70s, Roy Rogers had a little something for everyone on the menu, but its days were numbered. Today, although the franchise survives in other parts of the country, local fans of the restaurant can no longer get their fix on the island.
Roy Rogers restaurants emerged in 1968, owned by the Marriot Corporation. Contrary to popular belief, their only connection to the cowboy star was the name, which the company licensed for use. Pictures of Roy were displayed in each location, but it is unlikely that he ever actually stepping inside one of the restaurants.
What set Roy Rogers apart from the competition was that they offered a trifecta of hamburgers, roast beef and fried chicken, all of which were of better-than-average quality. The roast beef was tender, moist and freshly cut from an actual roast beef. The fried chicken (later to be re-branded “Pappy Parker’s Fried Chicken,”) gave the Colonel a run for his money.
The featured hamburger was the Double-R Bar Burger, notable for the layer of ham atop the hamburger. Many locations also contained a “Fixin’s Bar,” allowing customers to take control of their own condiment choices.
The first Roy Rogers restaurant on Long Island opened in Shirley in 1975. Shortly after, another location was added in Lake Ronkonkoma, replacing a Hardee’s restaurant. More and more locations would surface around the island, and in the years that followed, there were over 600 Roy Rogers scattered across the east coast. Then, in 1989, Marriot made the decision to halt their fast food efforts, selling both Roy Rogers and the popular Howard Johnson’s chains, much to the dismay of local fans, who saw many locations converted to Hardee’s, McDonald’s, Wendy’s and other common entities.
Today, there are no more on the island, the last one having closed in 2010. The only remaining locations in New York State include one on 7th Avenue in Manhattan and seven addition restaurants all located upstate. Memories of these eateries abound among Long Islanders, who watched one of their beloved places to eat ride off into the sunset.
Do you have memories of eating at, or working at, a Roy Rogers restaurant on Long Island? If so, I’d love to hear your recollections in our comments section below.