Roy's to celebrate 40th anniversary of food and community service Monday
By Jim Turner

Posted on March 12, 2023 2:58 PM

Exactly 40 years ago today, an historical era ended in Logan County. It was the last time the Land of Logan had to get by without a Roy’s Bar-B-Que.

Tomorrow (Monday) the popular eatery’s owners have invited the public to share with them a celebration of 40 years serving Russellville, Logan County, and neighboring areas, They provide their customers good food that is about as close to homecooked as you can get in a restaurant with a large seating area, a second location, a drive-through and catering.

 That homecooked designation is appropriate, since the restaurant is a daily gathering place for the Morgan family, which owns and operates Roy’s. It has been for four decades. Many of their long-time customers tend to feel they are a part of the family, too.

On March 13, 1983, Ralph and Jolene Morgan opened Roy’s Bar-B-Q near the entrance to the Boy Scout Camp. It wasn’t much more than a bait shop and barbecue pit. A Franklin Street location, now known as the “Little Pit,” opened four years later.

Pressured by growth, they moved the sit-down operation to a 50-seat location down Highway 431 North in 1990. Almost immediately, the new place was too small, as patrons shared tables and waited their turn for Roy’s now renowned barbecue.

Before his death in 1996, Ralph secured the land for their current location. Oldest son John, who works at Logan Aluminum, helped design the 3,300 square foot facility that opened on Oct. 1, 1998. Since then, it has become a mainstay for Logan Countians and a destination for tourists.

Named for the Morgans’ youngest son, Roy’s has always been a family affair. After Ralph’s death, Jolene kept the restaurant going with the help of their children, Roger Morgan, Roy Morgan, Kathy Howard and Lee Ann Harris. Not limited to the siblings, Roger’s wife Janie, Roy’s wife Michelle, and Lee Ann’s husband Harold, and the Morgan, Howard and Harris children have all played a role in the growth of the company. A fourth generation is now working at Roy’s.

Son/brother Billy, a standout Panther athlete, died very young. The family lost Roger in 2010 and Jolene in 2011, but Roger’s son, Lee, has worked at the restaurant most of his life and moved into his dad’s share.

Another sister, Mary Lou Winn, gave up her career as a respiratory therapist and is very active in the operation of Roy’s.

Roy’s has earned a reputation for delicious pit barbecue. The restaurant has been featured in numerous books and articles, including Gary West’s Eating Your Way Across Kentucky and Kentucky Living’s “2013 Best of Kentucky.” Folks travel from all over to try the pulled pork they’ve heard so much about, and relocated Logan Countians frequently stop by for a barbecue fix (and a few pounds to take back home). Roy’s has won countless awards, including Kentucky Pork Restaurant of the Year in 2007, Kentucky High School Athletic Directors’ Distinguished Service Award in 2009, and Logan County Small Business of the Year for 2014.

Ralph Morgan said Roy’s Bar-B-Que served the finest people in the world. To show their appreciation, they give back…constantly. It would be impossible to calculate the donations they’ve made in our community. The walls declare they are sports fans. You’ll find newspaper articles about Russellville football and Logan County basketball state championships. Prints of local legends, letters from local leaders and banners from the 2009 Little League World Series Team adorn the, too. Roy’s Bar-B-Q is a celebration of Logan County!

Matt Jones aired a session of his Kentucky Sports Radio show from Roy’s in the summer of 2019.

Roy’s paid for plaques to be created by Ronna Knuckles at Trophies to Go, featuring each of the members of the Russellville Alumni Athletic Hall of Fame. Those trophies, plus one honoring Roy’s Bar-B-Q, now adorn a highly visible wall at RHS.

During a period of four decades, Ralph & Jolene Morgan’s bait shop and pit shack has become a Logan County institution. On any given day you can dine with doctors and factory workers, men of the badge and men of the cloth. A former UK star might stop in and share a table with a hog farmer. The parking lot can be filled with cattle trailers, motorcycles or Corvettes. If folks are passing through, they know where to stop. Roy’s Bar-B-Q brings everyone to the table…and they always come back for more!

Celebrities and prizes

At the 11-1 lunchtime celebration Monday, a number of special guests have been invited to attend. Among them will be former UK basketball great Kenny ‘Sky’ Walker, who frequently stops in to see his friends at Roy’s, along with the woman who has been called the greatest girl basketball player ever from Kentucky, Olmstead’s Lillie Mason.

Giveaways are planned, including some gift certificates for Roy’s meals,

Chris McGinnis of WRUS will broadcast live from during the event.




Copyright © The Logan Journal 2009 - 2023