By Robert E. Plummer
Royal Farms was born when Cloverland Farms Dairy merged with Royal Dunloggin Dairy and then decided to open a convenience store. Renowned for their “world famous” fried chicken, and giant cockerel statue Royal Farms first opened in 1959 in Baltimore Maryland (which remains to this day, their corporate headquarters) and quietly grew into one of Baltimore’s most ubiquitous businesses leading to an era of accelerated expansion and years of careful branding.
Royal Farms – who currently operates 219 stores in Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and New Jersey, quietly moved into the New Jersey market in recent years opening locations throughout South Jersey. The New Jersey expansion began with store 164 on Cross Keys Road in Berlin. None of the currently operating 13 stores in New Jersey offer the carwash amenity that is common in the Baltimore area, or the Electric Vehicle Charging Stations that exist at other locations (something Wawa has been installing at many locations) they all seem to offer Fuel, Fried Chicken and f’real Milkshakes according to their locations page.
The upcoming Brick Township location, on the lot formerly occupied by the Jersey Paddler, was first approved to be built as a 4,649-square-foot store and fuel canopy with eight gasoline pumps. The vote was unanimous after some modifications were made to the site’s proposed signs and landscaping irrigation plan. The awkward site required 13 variances, owning not only to the shape of the property but also the fact that it fronts onto three different streets (Routes 70, 88 and Olden Street).
While the construction did call for the three large trees to be taken down, the plan included landscaping with shrubs and trees as well as a rain garden whose purpose is to help collect and control stormwater runoff and allow it to percolate into the ground.
Royal Farms originally proposed signs that would be 25 feet tall and 150-square-feet – nearly twice as high, and 3 times as large as what is current permitted. They agreed to reduce the height to 20 feet on Route 70 and 15 feet on Routes 88 and to reduce the size to roughly 106-square-feet on each. The sign ordinances were put in place to consciously address the sign clutter along the road.
At the beginning of the 2020 COVID-19 Pandemic, construction seemed to slow on the site. After the demolition of the old Jersey Paddler, and later site remediation and removal of debris, it seemed to sit for quite a long time with no activity but when I drove past the location recently the Fuel Canopy had gone up and dirt moving equipment could be seen operating on the site.
While we do not have any official estimate of the opening date and the Brick location doesn’t even appear on the “Coming Soon!” page we are sure it will be open in time to welcome the throngs of beach tourists that flock to the Jersey Shore every summer.