After well over a year of waiting, two giant inflatable chickens bobbed to life and staff began manning the counters at 12 a.m. Thursday as Royal Farms opened in Brick Township, the first location for the fast-growing chain of convenience stores in Ocean County – providing new competition to Wawa and QuickChek.
The midnight opening is the culmination of a years-long tease for some local residents, who have been asking officials, workers and reporters about the opening date. The convenience store, market and filling station was completed in the early fall of 2021, and was supposed to have opened in December of last year, but issues ranging from staffing shortages to unresolved traffic engineering issues kept the store’s doors closed.
A few customers trickled in at about 2:30 a.m. while a Shorebeat reporter stopped by for a look. Freshly-cooked fried chicken was ready to be served behind the main counter, and tables and chairs were neatly set up in the an indoor dining section. What was billed before the township’s planning board as a “super convenience store” when it was first pitched in 2018 – eventually gaining approval – has lived up to the hype. The unique interior boasts a modern design reminiscent of high-end supermarkets, the facility is brightly-lit, the shelves were well-stocked and the staff greeted their first customers with a friendly welcome as a few night owls took photos of the interior.
The fuel station was also open for business, with two cars filling their tanks, and the aforementioned giant, inflatable chickens were placed alongside Route 70 and Route 88 near the entrances.
Royal Farms has become well-known for its fried chicken, made on site, and a wide selection of sandwiches and freshly-made food items customers can order from a touchscreen or digital app, similar to competitors Wawa and QuickChek. A refrigerated display of “grab and go” items was also available.
Royal Farms has dishes that include breakfast all day and night, chicken sandwiches, burgers and hot dogs, fries, party platters and a wide variety of deli sandwiches.
The chain operates 247 stores and is growing quickly. Royal Farms is based in Baltimore, where it opened in 1959, and has locations in Maryland, Virginia, Delaware and Pennsylvania. It entered the southern New Jersey market over the last few years, and the Brick Township store is the first in Ocean County. Royal Farms has announced plans to expand to North Carolina in 2023.
Royal Farms was approved by the planning board in 2018 and is located on the site of the former Jersey Paddler store, a longtime Brick Township staple that specialized in kayaks, canoes and outdoor equipment.