Roy Rogers goes to college — College Park, specifically

Roy Rogers is opening its first-ever campus location, at the University of Maryland-College Park. (Courtesy Roy Rogers)

Fast food chain Roy Rogers is opening its newest location in the middle of the University of Maryland College Park campus, its only location currently on a college campus.

It will open Thursday, and will present a donation to the University of Maryland Campus Pantry as part of its grand opening.

The Roy Rogers is in the Stamp Student Union food court, and will have its full menu of roast beef, burgers and chicken.

It is a reunion of sorts for Roy Rogers and College Park. A previous version under different ownership was a staple at the campus food court decades ago.

It may be the first of several college campus locations for the chain.

“Roy Rogers is ready to serve the community in College Park, and we look forward to expanding our reach and making our mark on college campuses all over the East Coast,” said co-president Jim Plamondon.

Roy Rogers, known for its Western theme and fixins’ bars, is based in Frederick, Maryland. The storied chain almost did not survive.

The first Roy Rogers opened in Falls Church, Virginia, in 1968 as part of Marriott International. The Roy Rogers chain was sold to Hardee’s in 1990, and many of its locations, which at one point numbered in the hundreds, were converted to Hardee’s locations.

Its salvation came from one of its original creators, Pete Plamondon Sr., who helped develop the Roy Rogers brand for Marriott and opened the first Roy Rogers franchise in Frederick, Maryland, in 1980.

Plamondon’s sons, Pete Jr. and Jim, bought Plamondon Companies from their father in 1998 and in 2003 acquired the Roy Rogers trademark.

Plamondon Companies has rebuilt the chain to 24 company-owned restaurants and 18 franchise restaurants in six states, mostly in Maryland and Virginia.

Jeff Clabaugh

Jeff Clabaugh has spent 20 years covering the Washington region's economy and financial markets for WTOP as part of a partnership with the Washington Business Journal, and officially joined the WTOP newsroom staff in January 2016.

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