Where can you find Roy Rogers chicken? One day, you might find it in Burtonsville.
Next week, the Planning Board will review an application by Frederick-based hospitality company Plamondon Enterprises, Inc. to allow a drive-through restaurant at the Burtonsville Town Square shopping center on Route 198. Plamondon Enterprises, run by brothers Jim and Peter Plamondon, Jr, own the trademark and franchise system for Roy Rogers.
The Plamondon brothers' father, Peter Plamondon, Sr., helped develop the Roy Rogers concept while head of restaurants at Marriott in the 1960's. From one branch in Falls Church, the chain grew steadily throughout the 1970's and 80's, amassing 648 locations in the Mid-Atlantic and 200 in Greater Washington alone. Hardee's bought Roy Rogers in 1990 and converted some locations to their brand. They sold off the rest to Boston Market, Wendy's and McDonald's.
A few locations hung on before the Plamondon brothers bought the brand in 2002 and resumed adding new branches. Though the chain is much smaller than it used to be, there are currently 45 locations throughout the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast, 18 of which are operated by Plamondon. However, hungry East County residents must travel all the way to Gaithersburg, where the nearest Roy Rogers is located.
I've said before that Burtonsville's future is tied to its well-regarded restaurants, like Cuba de Ayer, Old Hickory Grille, and Soretti's. Roy Rogers may be a fast-food joint, but it enjoys a substantial following here in the D.C. area. Fast-food expert Sherry Daye Scott told the Washington Post in 2005 that chains with a regional following, like In-N-Out Burger in California, are often the most successful. And that bodes well for Burtonsville.
This isn't a done deal, however. Burtonsville Town Square was originally approved with sit-down restaurants only, which is why Plamondon Enterprises will have to ask the Planning Board for a special exception. Though if they don't receive one, they could also build a restaurant without a drive-through like the Chick-Fil-A on Tech Road.
A Roy Rogers in Burtonsville may not have the same impact as some of the other improvements proposed for Burtonsville's ailing village center, but it's good news nonetheless. I try not to eat a lot of fast food, but I look forward to having Roy's burgers and fried chicken in my backyard once again.
Post-script: Growing up in downtown Silver Spring, I would beg my mother to take me to the Roy Rogers at Georgia Avenue and Blair Road, which is now a KFC. I also remember ones at New Hampshire Avenue and Lockwood Drive in White Oak and at Briggs Chaney Plaza, which are now both McDonald's. Who remembers any other Roy Rogers locations?