By: Megan Wimberley
In 1977 a sandwich shop called The Roaring 50’s opened. Then in 1984 it went up for sale, and as fate would have it Richard Van Kluyve was looking for a business of his own.
“We just wanted something to do and this was for sale,” Nick, Richard’s son, said.
Fate must have had a good plan because 24 years later Richard, Nick, and Mary Lee — Richard’s wife — are still going strong.
This may be owed in part to the fact that the family has remained true to the original menu and atmosphere of the restaurant. Keeping the menu the same all these years ensures that no matter how many times a customer returns, their “old favorites” will be waiting for them.
Some things, however, have changed.
“We changed to non-smoking before that was the cool thing to do,” the Van Kluyve’s said.
They also decided to start delivering orders to customers at their table instead of calling them out. The restaurant has maintained its originality while also becoming more lung-friendly and comfortable.
The Van Kluyves have seen their share of customers throughout the years and say that the best thing about their business is their regulars, many of whom are from Wayland.
“Our bread and butter is Wayland faculty and staff,” Nick said. “We just love them.”
Father and son then proved this statement by naming off several of their regulars from Wayland.
Faculty and staff aren’t their only regulars from Wayland. Richard also pointed out a picture on the wall of four Wayland students, who he said come frequently for ice cream.
Richard also shared a few memorable experiences. He recalled one customer who ordered three Dr Peppers at the drive thru. When the customer got to the window, Richard began handing her the sodas. She looked at him confused and asked, “Which one’s the Dr Pepper?”
Another time The Roaring 50’s offered buy-one-get-one-free coupons in the freshman packets at Wayland. Richard said that a group of basketball guys came in and asked him if they could just get the free burger — they didn’t really want both of them.
Richard and Nick both agree that the two biggest things they’ve learned at the restaurant are friendliness and consistency. This consistency includes their attitude; they have to be “on” and positive everyday.
Consistency also refers to their product. If a vender, for example the bakery where they buy all of their bread, stops selling an item they have to find another place to buy the item with the same quality.
There are some things that just can’t be helped, however. For example, The Roaring 50’s also carries 24 flavors of ice cream. Unfortunately, some of the ice cream they carry is seasonal, so no matter how bad they want to keep it in stock they just have to wait until the season comes back around.
The Roaring 50’s is open Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Stop by and see what you think. I believe you will fall in love with the welcome, laid-back atmosphere as well as the great tasting sandwiches.
The Van Kluyves will be more than happy to help you ,and they will even stay open a little later if you call in for a group.