Kelly’s Roast Beef launches Northeast expansion plans

Since 1951, Kelly’s Roast Beef has been a household name in Boston, earning national attention in pop culture and maintaining a loyal cult following. Now, the iconic chain which proudly lays claim to having invented the modern roast beef sandwich, aims to bring a taste of its hometown to new communities throughout the Northeast with the launch of its franchise opportunity.
Over the next 24 months, Kelly’s expects to open as many as six new restaurants across Greater Boston and other parts of New England, including Natick, Quincy, Worcester, and Providence. In addition to traditional brick and mortar locations, Kelly’s is eyeing “express” locations in mall food courts and at local universities as part of the expansion plans. The ultimate goal is to have as many as 50 total locations open and operating in the next five years.
“Kelly’s is a known brand that people love. People associate it with Boston similarly to the way people associate In-N-Out Burger with California. Customers have a passion for the brand and there are very few franchise opportunities out there founded on over 70 years of history,” said Neil Newcomb, CEO of Kelly’s Roast Beef Franchising. “We look forward to welcoming new partners who are ready to bring our revolutionary brand to new communities.”
The history of Kelly’s dates back to 1951, when founders Frank McCarthy and Ray Carey first worked together at the Paul Roger House in Revere Beach. The duo decided to go into business together and opened up a hot dog stand next door while continuing to work at the inn’s restaurant. The iconic roast beef sandwich was created on a whim one night after a wedding was cancelled, and the two took the roast beef from the event over to their hot dog stand and served it on a grilled hamburger roll.
Since, the Kelly’s Roast Beef sandwich has become a local legend. A carving machine thin slices 25-day aged, medium rare roasted sirloin-tip meat plopped on a buttered, griddled hamburger roll, and topped with any condiments the customer ordered plus a slice of cheese. A small sandwich gets five to six ounces of roast beef, while a large gets seven-and-a-half to eight-and-a-half.
Today, a busy location during its peak season can sell upwards of 20,000 roast beef sandwiches a month. Across its multiple locations, Kelly’s estimates a staggering one million sandwiches sold a year. The figures are impressive, but equally impressive is that even in the face of tremendous volume, Kelly’s hasn’t gone towards a commissary set-up. Instead, each location roasts its beef in-house all through the day, ensuring that sandwiches can still be carved to order as they have been for decades. That, in and of itself, is the hallmark of a Kelly’s sandwich, said Newcomb. “It’s never sitting. It’s a medium rare, melt-in-your-mouth roast beef.”
Other beloved menu items include fried clams, lobster rolls, crispy french fries, onion rings, hot dogs, and chicken finger plates.
The launch of Kelly’s franchise opportunity has been a long time coming. Throughout the years, Kelly’s has gained national attention on the Food Network’s show $40 a Day with Rachael Ray, a PBS Special called “Sandwiches You Will Like”, Robert B. Parker’s Wonderland by Ace Atkins, NBC’s three-time Emmy award-winning 30 Rock, and on the silver screen in Oscar-winning Good Will Hunting. Last year, Thrillist named Kelly’s one of “11 New England Chains the Entire Country Needs” and Business Insider said travelers shouldn’t leave Boston without trying the roast beef sandwich at Kelly’s.
Including a franchise fee of $40,000, the total initial investment to open a Kelly’s franchise is $900,000-$1.7 million. For the first 10 franchise agreements signed, the royalty will be 3% year one, 4% year two, and 5% for the remainder of the term.
Founded in 1951 and franchising since 2020, Kelly’s Roast Beef is the inventor of the modern roast beef sandwich. Kelly’s roasts its beef in-house all through the day, serves everything fresh and made-to-order, and estimates serving a staggering one million sandwiches a year. The brand has become a symbol for Boston and has been referenced in pop culture, including in 30 Rock and Good Will Hunting. Today, there are five locations open in the Boston metropolitan area. For more information, visit

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