House of Roy was a Cantonese Chinese restaurant in Boston, Massachusetts from the 1950s to the 1980s, a favorite of MIT students and others. Rick and his MIT cohorts, particularly from MIT’s MacGregor House B-entry (Marc Blank, Joel Berez, Mike Dornbrook, Mike Riley, and others) visited the House of Roy weekly starting in 1972.
There were two primary ways we ventured from MIT to the House of Roy at 12a Tyler Street in east Boston. Mostly, we went on the T, Boston’s subway system. We walked across the MIT campus to Kendall Square, which at the time was at the border between the east campus of MIT and the slums of East Cambridge. We took the Red Line from Kendall Square to Washington Street (now called Downtown Crossing) and then switched to the Orange Line. (One of the denizens at Washington Street came up to me and my MIT friends in the T station and interjected a famed phrase, “zip, zap, zoop”.) At other times, we arrived by car, whether Joel Berez’s or others.
The House of Roy was a weekly staple of this MIT crowd on weekends. (Note that the MIT dining system in this time and era did not serve food to students on weekends!) Check out an advert by House of Roy on page 4 of the 13 November 1959 edition of The Tech! Wow! I started eating at House of Roy around 1972!
The usual question once we sat down (and we rarely needed to glance at the menu) was: “n or n minus 1?” To translate: do we want to order main course dishes for everyone, or one less?
House of Roy was located up the stairs on 12a Tyler Street, not far from the infamous (in its time) Combat Zone in downtown Boston. Boston in the 1970s designated some areas as its red light district, for prostitutes and others, and it was called the Combat Zone. The restaurant is said to have closed in 1982 when Roy died.
Here’s a photograph from the Nick DeWolf Photo Archive.
Here’s an anecdote:
We asked for tea and Roy (we think this was the family name) told Suford she would be allowed to go into the kitchen and make it for us. When she returned she informed us that the kitchen was ruled over by a large tom cat. (“Did you pet him?” “No, he was on duty.”) When we queried the owner his response was that the cat kept down vermin and was safer than chemicals. We asked about the Health Inspector and were told “cat cleaner than Health Inspector.”
Since many of our memories of House of Roy are just that, only memories, here are some other memories of House of Roy to help us out here:
All that said, this seems to only be a first step in the door to this history. Looking forward to more!
Updated 29 September 2017