Royal Farms, known for great fried chicken, wants to open in Brick

June 5, 2018

By David P. Willis | Asbury Park Press, USA Today

Royal Farms, a convenience store chain known for its fried chicken, wants to break into Wawa country.

Based in Baltimore, Royal Farms has filed plans with the township Planning Board to build a 4,649-square-foot convenience store at the intersection of Routes 88 and 70, the landmark location of Jersey Paddler. Jersey Paddler closed in 2016 after 50 years in business.

Royal Farms, which has 188 stores in five states, is growing in New Jersey. Last November, it opened its first Jersey store in Magnolia. It later added Bellmawr and Gloucester City, and has plans for at least 10 other stores in the South Jersey area around Philadelphia.

If approved by Brick’s planners, Royal Farms at Route 88 and Route 70 would be the first location at the Jersey Shore. Besides the convenience store, plans call for eight gasoline pumps under a 5,280-square-foot canopy. A hearing date has not been set.

“We do have a lot of gas stations in town, but this is a different choice for people to make,” Mayor John Ducey said. “It is great to see that we are going to be one of the first in New Jersey to have a Royal Farms.”

Once built, Royal Farms joins a crowded field. As seen in a video at the top of this story, Wawa and QuickChek, have made their own moves.

Last fall, QuickChek opened a convenience store with gas pumps on Route 70. Speedway has a location on Route 88 in Brick.

Wawa already has four locations in Brick, including one with gas pumps, and it wants to grow. Last winter, it won approval to build a store with gas pumps on Route 70.

It also wants to open a store on Route 88 at Jack Martin Boulevard and rebuild its Lanes Mill Road location. Plans call for it to knock down the existing convenience store and closed Rice King restaurant next door and build a new store with gas pumps. Neither proposal has had a hearing before the Planning Board.

Ducey said the Shell station on Lanes Mill Road, across from Wawa, wants to build a new convenience store where its car wash is now located.

Royal Farms’ expansion into Wawa’s backyard is getting noticed. Frank Beard, an analyst and evangelist of convenience store and retail trends at GasBuddy, called it a “fairly gutsy move.”

“They are moving into areas where Wawa has a pretty strong presence,” Beard said. Wawa “is one of the most competitive brands in the industry. They are trying to do the same has and do it better.”

Royal Farms is known for its fried chicken. Food & Wine Magazine listed Royal Farms fried chicken as one of 10 Gas Station Foods From Across the Country That Are Worth the Detour.

“If a glance at chicken-filled buffet trays glowing golden under the heat lamp alongside lotto tickets and Lays chips puts you off, check yourself and just order it already,” the magazine said.

Retail analyst Burt Flickinger III said it’s a “David versus Goliath story.”

“It’s a perfect move at a perfect time,” Flickinger said. Intense competition in the central United States among big convenience store chains, such as Sheetz, QuikTrip, Casey’s General Stores and Marathon, has diverted capital spending by chains away from New Jersey, he said.

“New Jersey became a vacuum for convenience stores,” he said. Royal Farms sees “tremendous opportunities as New Jersey is growing both in terms of population, family formation and business formation.”