Kelly’s meals on wheels

February 21, 2017

ITEM PHOTO BY OWEN O’ROURKE
Kelly’s Roast Beef in Revere has been operating from this truck while the store is renovated.

By BRIDGET TURCOTTE

REVERE — For a limited time, Kelly’s Roast Beef lovers can catch their favorite sandwiches from a food truck at Revere Beach.

The flagship restaurant is operating a mobile shop to serve their most popular menu items, including roast beef, cheeseburgers, fish sandwiches and lobster rolls while the kitchen goes through major renovations.

John “Brian” McCarthy, president of the company, said he is using the opportunity as a trial run for what could be an expansion to his business plan.

“It’s a pretty good idea for us to try this and see if it works,” McCarthy said. “We bought it from a gentleman who tried it for a year. We want to make sure that if we do something, we do it right.”

Founded in 1951 by Frank McCarthy and Raymond Carey, the walk-up window on Revere Beach Boulevard is the original location of what has since expanded to include four other stores in Saugus, Danvers, Natick and Medford.

Dan Doherty, vice president and director of operations, oversees the everyday operation of the restaurants.

“This is the first time in our history that we’ve closed,” said Doherty. “We’ve done smaller renovations in the past but this rehab was beyond staying open.”

McCarthy said the space’s plumbing and electrical is being updated to better meet the city’s codes. New floors, ceilings and equipment are also being added.

Rather than battening down the hatches and closing its doors to customers, Kelly’s wheeled in a food truck painted with the store’s logo and an under-the-sea mural. The truck is equipped with grills and everything the crew needs to prepare the Revere Beach favorites. But cooking the food in the small space is no easy task.

General Manager John Barry is one five managers who have taken to the grill to fulfill orders.

“We make sure we’re making the things that people are coming to Kelly’s for,” Barry said. “Kelly’s has a longstanding tradition to never close. We’re always open. When there’s a big snow storm, we sleep here.”

Using the truck for the past two weeks has McCarthy thinking about taking Kelly’s on the move.

“We do a lot of catering now,” he said. “It has really caught on. We could be a lot more mobile now with the food truck. We could take it to venues and have the ability to use the truck there.”

Judi and Bernard Peloquin of Westford returned to Kelly’s Tuesday after spending their first date there 15 years ago.

“I got a roast beef sandwich and he was shocked that I finished the whole thing,” Judi said. “I told him ‘I love food’ and he still married me.”

The couple was surprised to be greeted with a truck, but said they were fans of the concept.

“Food trucks are becoming more and more popular — you see them all over the place in the South Station area,” she said. “I would definitely look for it.”

Revere Beach’s walk-up window is expected to reopen by Monday. Until then, the truck will be parked outside and open for business from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily, weather permitting.

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Bridget Turcotte can be reached at bturcotte@itemlive.com. Follow her on Twitter @BridgetTurcotte.