Close Menu
Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette Logo Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette


Big turnout during ribbon cutting for Royal Farms store

(Jan. 12, 2017) The mood was noticeably light during the official ribbon cutting for the new Royal Farms at the corner of Route 50 and Stephen Decatur Highway in Berlin, which drew about 100 people last Friday, including several local officials and many members of town staff.
They were there for the free chicken, but also to welcome the new store to the area, which had been in development since at least early 2015.
Berlin Mayor Gee Williams said the shop was a perfect example of what makes the town unique and successful, balancing both environmental stewardship and economic development.
“We are very proud to have you here,” he said. “We think that you’re leading by example. Berlin is trying to lead by example on a small scale [environmentally].
“Please have fun,” he added. “If you’re going to be a part of the Town of Berlin, fun is required.”
Worcester County Commissioner Bud Church joked that he would show up every morning to speak at the store, so long as he was allowed to stand next to the large Krispy Kreme donut display. Church was also flanked, it should be noted, by a bright yellow, six-foot-tall chicken, as well as by fellow commissioner Diana Purnell.
“Welcome to the neighborhood. Welcome to the tax rolls. We love having you,” he said.
Senator Jim Mathias came in fashionably late and quipped, “the band will be here in about 15 minutes” as a flustered Brittany Eldredge, Royal Farms’ public relations manager, apparently unsure who he was, invited him to speak.
“We love our chicken here on the Eastern Shore,” Mathias said, throwing an arm around both Eldredge and “Foghorn,” the Royal Farms mascot.
Mathias noted a countdown crosswalk was being installed in order to improve safety at the street corner, with concerns about the store’s approximation to Stephen Decatur High School. He also praised the school itself.
“We have a great education system here,” Mathias said. “Our children are our most valuable asset and our future, and you guys do a fabulous job from an entrepreneurial perspective and we’re proud to have you as part of our community.”
Eldredge presented checks to several area nonprofits at the end of the roughly 20-minute introduction.
Accepting donations were Diakonia Executive Director Claudia Nagle, Worcester County Gold President Carol Jacobs and coordinator Hans Zieger, Worcester Youth and Family Counseling Executive Director Steven Taylor and Church Mouse Director Helen Wiley.
Stephen Decatur High School Co-Principal Ryan Cowder accepted a donation on behalf of the school marching band, and Eldredge said a donation would also be made to the Ocean City Reef Foundation, although the store has had some difficulty in reaching representatives there.
Royal Farms President John Kemp introduced the new Royal Farms Rewards program, which launched nationally the day before, and noted the corporation dates back to 1918, started by his grandfather and two great uncles.
Kemp struggled, at times, with the correct pronunciation of “Worcester County.”
“I was actually little nervous before I came up here, because I said I know I’m going to refer back to ‘war-chester,’” he said with a laugh. “We’re very excited about this store. It’s been a couple years in the making [and] the town and the county have been great working with us to get this approved.”
Kemp said the store had about 30 employees, and that Royal Farms was known for its fried chicken and western fries, made in-store. The oil used to fry the chicken is also used in the making of biodiesel fuel, according to Eldredge.
Royal Farms Environmental and Fuel Leader Tom Ruszin, a graduate of Salisbury University and former Ocean City resident, noted the store sold ethanol-free fuel at the pumps behind the store.