As a road-food eater, perhaps the worst thing I can encounter is a “for sale” sign outside a little, independent establishment. Usually, it means the business has failed, a sadly familiar outcome during all the pandemic shutdowns.
But that’s not the real issue at Roy’s Place, a local institution in the farming community of Claresholm in southern Alberta. Indeed, there’s a bit of a lunchtime lineup in the spacious restaurant when I visit recently. Double indeed, it has gained widespread acclaim since appearing on Canadian TV’s You Gotta Eat Here not that long ago.
The problem is more likely something that’s afflicted many a successful restaurant: burnout. Co-owners Kieth and Brandi have run the place for 14 years, putting in 60-hour weeks for her and 80 hours for him, while raising young children. So it’s not surprising to see the for-sale ad on the restaurant’s Facebook page.
Hopefully, they can find someone as talented and committed to take over the business. It will be one thing to duplicate the famous menu, which includes king-sized cinnamon buns, bowls of dill pickle soup (Thursdays only) and Angus beef burgers.
But it will be difficult to replicate the pizzazz and personality the couple bring to Roy’s. Throughout my meal, Brandi is kibitzing with locals, several sporting hard-used cowboy hats. “That’ll be $10 million for your lunch,” she tells one customer and “I will not be responsible for her” another. Meanwhile, Kieth is steadily prowling the restaurant, delivering bulging plates of food.
The challenge for the next owners will be to keep the good times rolling. As the Facebook ad states: “Here is your chance to be the beacon of good food and love on Highway 2 for the next 15 years.”
5008 1 Street West/Highway 2, Claresholm, Alberta
Tuesday to Saturday 11 am-7 pm. Closed Sunday and Monday