The news that Royal’s Chicken & Burgers was moving from its Vic Park home to a bigger venue just up the road was met with plenty of grins – especially from those used to long waits for a table. In December its new 120-capacity site (formerly home to The Precinct) finally opened, and co-owner Ken Craigie reckons the extra space is a game changer.
“The customer experience has really improved,” he tells Broadsheet. “We thought [the small space] was part of Royal’s appeal, but people are appreciating the spaciousness. Families are feeling a lot more comfortable. We’ve always tried to be family-friendly but didn’t anticipate how enthusiastic they would be. It’s been a really nice surprise.”
Royal’s hip-hop vibe remains: a mural by local artist Jason Green (who also decorated the other restaurants) adorns the bar area, and the bar is separated from the lower-key dining space by a wall of pop-culture-inspired skateboards.
The menu has Royal’s popular burgers, fried chicken and sides, of course, but there are some new items too – jalapeno poppers; mini corndogs; stacked salads (you can opt for ranch dressing and fried chicken on top); and a pecan pie that Craigie says has been described as “life-changing”. The bigger kitchen means operations have improved overall, too. “Some of the biggest nights so far have been the smoothest sailing,” he says. And thanks to a new liquor license, you can now enjoy beer; wine; spirits; a boozy shake (there’s a chocolatey Mudslide, and one with an intriguing combo of vanilla vodka and Fruit Loops); or a pre-batched cocktail (such as Alize Bleu, gin and juice) with your meal.
Beers include Brooklyn Brewery’s Bel Air Sour, 3 Ravens’ New England Juicy IPA and Boston Brewing Co’s Tingletop Ginger Beer. The wine list is still being finessed. “We want relationships with some up-and-coming local wineries, supporting small players as much as we can,” says Craigie.
Expect DJs on Friday nights and, soon, monthly live music sets.
Initial news of the move coincided with the announcement that Lola’s Grilled Chicken would be reborn at Royal’s original Vic Park site. Craigie says work on the new Lola’s will start in the new year (for a March opening).
“We’ve got so much activity with the new store we need to settle things down before we start looking at the next step, otherwise we’re going to stretch ourselves too thin,” he says. “But there’s a lot of anticipation. We still get people hounding us for Lola’s gravy.”