Rolly's Tavern a growing presence in Wyoma Square

October 4, 2012
By Joyce Erekson/The Daily Item

When Rolly and Wendy Hayes decided to open what was then called Rolly's Golden Circle in the old Equitable Bank building in Wyoma Square eight years ago, they didn't have a master plan.

They knew they would have to soften the bank feel to make it a little more inviting to diners and those out for a drink. They put up an awning, had their logo painted on it and made some lighting changes, but nothing major structurally.

"From the day we opened did we envision all of this? No, but we did know we had to change the front of the building," Wendy Hayes said.

The "all of this" she is referring to is the three-phase expansion of what is now called Rolly's Tavern on the Square that began a couple of years ago and is now in the homestretch. The changes done in the first two phases are nothing short of dramatic.

The newly renovated Rolly’s Tavern in Wyoma Square, Lynn.
The newly renovated Rolly’s Tavern in Wyoma Square, Lynn. (Item Photo / Owen O'Rourke)

They include the addition of a new dining area to the right on a portion of the property that Equitable had once hoped to use for a drive through window at the bank, the relocation of the front entrance and a total makeover of the façade of the building.

Originally the bar consumed most of the restaurant with only a half dozen or so tables available for dining. The expansion doubled the capacity, from about 42 seats to 80-plus. Phase 3 will add several more tables and increase dining capacity into the 90s, but the biggest difference will be in what goes on behind the scenes.

The Hayes, who initially rented the building from Equitable after acquiring the old Golden Circle liquor license, started talking about expanding three or four years ago and the first step was buying the building. Despite the name, there is no business connection with the former Rolly's restaurant that was once located a little further down Broadway where Equitable Bank now sits.

The Hayes are excited about their latest project, which is a two-story (main floor and basement) addition off the back of the building that will create a new kitchen five times the size of the existing one and it will allow for the relocation of the rest rooms, which are now accessed directly from the main dining/bar area. The new space also includes a storage area and room for more refrigeration. "We've been able to maintain growth every year since we started and with this expansion (the added dining area) it's grown a lot more," Rolly Hayes said.

As far as making the investment, they both feel they're in a good spot to make it work.

"I think it's just the business risk vs. reward thing," Rolly Hayes said. "Had we not been growing constantly, we would have second guessed it."

Wendy Hayes said they both love New Hampshire and considered opening a business up there, but they had reservations.

"I think this (Wyoma Square) is the perfect venue," she said. "If you're in a popular tourist area, you have to worry about your off-season. We had always thought about going up to New Hampshire. We love that area, but then you go up there and every year there's a business that was open that's now closed. And these places were great."

Rolly Hayes, who is from New Hampshire, said there are a lot of advantages to having a neighbor-style place and consistency of business is one of them. Although parking can be an issue in the area at times, Hayes said they're working with the mayor and other city officials on the possible expansion of the rear parking lot.

The added dining space has already allowed Rolly's to do some things that weren't feasible in the old space, like have local organizations hold their fundraisers there for a percentage of the proceeds. The Hayes said they're already using the added dining space for small functions (under 50 people), like showers.

Once the new kitchen is up and running, which they said should be around Halloween, other options will open up. Currently Rolly's serves lunch and dinner, but with the added refrigeration, brunch is a possibility. Rolly Hayes said they used to have a Mexican night on Tuesdays which was popular, but they had to do away with it because of the kitchen constraints. He said he'd like to get back to it.

The new kitchen will also allow Rolly's, which also has the food service contract up at Gannon Golf Course for functions, to do its catered food trays at the restaurant.

The addition of some big screen TVs, half price appetizers and 25 cent wings for football games has also brought in a nice crowd, Rolly Hayes said, adding that they get a diverse crowd in terms of age.

One of the biggest differences the expansion has brought has been the size of the staff. The Hayes originally ran the business with a staff of six, including themselves. Now they have triple that number.

"Now we have six to eight cooks on a Friday night and the staff up front has tripled," Rolly Hayes said.

Hayes said his hope is that the restaurant won't be just a "special event" type of place.

"Hopefully it will be a pleasant dining experience that isn't a special event type of place. I want it to be reasonable, so people can go a couple of times a month and enjoy themselves," he said.

Joyce Erekson can be reached at

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