A new take on lunch

Roy’s Market tapping into Monday through Friday crowd

  • Little Roy's in Peterborough is expanding its lunchtime takeout offerings.
  • Little Roy's in Peterborough is expanding its lunchtime takeout offerings.
  • Little Roy's in Peterborough is expanding its lunchtime takeout offerings.
  • Little Roy's in Peterborough is expanding its lunchtime takeout offerings.
  • Little Roy's in Peterborough is expanding its lunchtime takeout offerings.

Two years ago, Peter Robinson of Roy’s Market decided to expand his takeout food options on a modest scale, setting up a barbecue stand in the parking lot between the downtown market and his Little Roy’s convenience store on Depot Street. The stand was only open one day a week , for a few hours around lunch time, but it was an immediate hit.

“People really enjoyed it,” Robinson said last week. “They kept asking when we were going to do more. It was so successful, we decided to do one day a week with Mexican food. We had Tuesday Taco Day and Thursday barbecue.”

Robinson said the popularity of the outdoor sales convinced him that the time had come to offer more takeout choices.

“We decided, if that’s what people want, let’s do it,” he said. So as fall approached, he did a quick revamp of the layout of Little Roy’s. And now he’s offering takeout food Monday through Friday, serving it from a behind a new takeout counter that lines one side of the store.

“A lot of people in town only have a half-hour at lunch,” Robinson said. “This is quick. People can come in, grab it and go. In nice weather, they can eat outside in the park, or they can take it back to their offices or jobs. We have a lot of construction guys coming in.”

Robinson said lead chef Ellen Matthews has been cooking at Little Roy’s for almost four years in the tiny kitchen at the back of the store. Working with Domenick Geraci and Melissa Chinnici, she’s coming up with a different set of menu choices each day. Every Monday features a weekly special, Tuesdays are still Mexican day, Wednesday’s offering is a baked potato bar with a variety of toppings, Thursdays feature a range of barbecue choices and Fridays are fish sandwiches and seafood chowder.

“We make everything from scratch,” Robinson said. “All the meats we use are fresh, coming right from our own market next door.”

The Little Roy’s cooks are also still making pizza, soups and hamburgers every day.

“We’re trying to have choices and to make it as affordable as possible,” Robinson said.

In order to accommodate the new emphasis on food, Robinson changed the hours for Little Roy’s.

“To do it properly, we decided we had to open later. If we were trying to prepare and set up while still being open, it would be too much.”

So the store doesn’t open until 10 a.m., both on weekdays and weekends. It’s closing each night at 7 p.m., an hour earlier than in the past, partly in order to give staff time to clean up and prepare for the next day.

Robinson said the store didn’t see a lot of evening business and that his customers, even the ones who stopped in early for newspapers and coffee, have been supportive.

“I was surprised at how many people realize what we’re trying to accomplish,” Robinson said. “It’s been overwhelmingly positive.”

He noted that the nearby Steele’s Stationers will be able to serve some of his regular morning customers.

“If people want an early newspaper, they can pick it up there,” he said.

Robinson cut back on the number of grocery items that Little Roy’s carries when he took out a row of shelves to make room for the takeout counter.

“A lot of what we dropped were duplicates of what we have right next store in Roy’s,” he said. “We’ve kept our full line of beverages and our large selection of beer.”

Robinson said the changeover didn’t require a huge investment.

“We’ve been doing catering for two years now and that business has been growing steadily,” he said. “We can do anything from a small business luncheon up to weddings of 140 people. We had all the equipment. It was just a matter of getting it set up the way we want it.”

Robinson said none of the Roy’s staff lost jobs as the result of the changeover.

“We made some adjustments to people’s assignments. We have a great crew of people here,” he said.

The business has 10 full-time employees and 13 part-time workers between the three stores Robinson owns, Maggie’s Market, Roy’s and Little Roy’s.

Little Roy’s isn’t selling takeout food on the weekend. Robinson said his goal to offer choices to the people who work Monday through Friday in and around Peterborough.

“They seem to be an underserved market,” he said. “This is really becoming a major focus of the business.”

Dave Anderson can be reached at 924-7172, ext. 233 or He’s on Twitter at @DaveAndersonMLT.

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