Roy’s Meat Service is one of East Nashville’s most beloved restaurants, celebrated both for quality of food and service, and a favorite among locals and tourists alike. The popular eatery began in 2008 by Jeff Roy, who started Roy’s Meat Service after an elbow injury kept him from his job driving a delivery truck at Nashville Wholesale Meats, and his promised role as a salesman for the same company fell through.
“I was devastated, not knowing how I would provide a living for my family,” Roy tells Everything Nash.
Fortunately, Roy’s then-boss told him he could sell meat at only three cents a pound over his own cost, which is how Roy’s Meat Service began, purchasing local, all-natural meats — something the owner is rightfully proud of, and what separates Roy’s Meat Service from other places in Nashville.
“Since we are in the wholesale meat business, we are able to source our meat locally, and purchase only all-natural meats without the added nitrates that preserve the meats, and keep it bright pink for an unbelievable amount of time,” Roy explains. “Also, all of the meat portions are larger, and our veggies have more meats than most other restaurants.”
Roy is a native Nashvillian, part of a legacy in the East Nashville community since 1942, when his grandfather, Bob Bruce, was the local ice man, who delivered block ice to the community before households had refrigerators. His grandfather also went door-to-door as the Purity milkman, while his own father ran a convenience store called Main Street Market, which is why East Nashville felt like the perfect fit for Roy.
“As we were struggling to stay in the competitive wholesale meat business, this little store came up for sale, and I told my wife, ‘We just got to get this store so we can carry on the family legacy of serving this community,'” Roy shares.
Ask anyone who has visited Roy’s Meat Service, and they will each have their own favorite item, like their meatloaf, brisket chili, fried chicken tenders and more. But for Roy, there are a few menu items that will always stand out as favorites.
“Our pulled pork is prepared like the famous East Nashville BBQ restaurant called Cantrell’s BBQ,” Roy boasts. “It is a must-try. We also serve the EsFernando’s style quesadillas that are prepared by one of the [owner’s] family members, so it is original not a copy. This restaurant was the first authentic Mexican place around. It was Elvis Presley’s favorite stop on his way to Colonel Tom’s office.”
Roy, who proudly says all of the recipes come from his mother’s own recipe box, has dreams of expanding Roy’s Meat Service even more. He also wants to add to his already-popular market, allowing guests to stock up on needed groceries in their own community.
“I could see us growing into a bigger place with more seating, and more shelf space,” Roy says. “But since the 2020 tornado hit, I witnessed the need for this store to provide the goods that this community needs. We were able to open the store and run off generators to provide the needs of these neighbors. After the tornado, when all the big stores were closed, then COVID hit.
“With us being in the wholesale meat business, we were able to reach out to some of the smaller packing houses that didn’t have to close, and we were able to keep meat on the shelf when the big stores couldn’t,” he continues. “So I don’t see us going anywhere. We’re staying where we are to serve their needs.”
Roy offers a lot of the same menu items day after day, week after week, taking pride in the quality of food his guests — many who become like family — enjoy.
“We believe that every dish we serve should be consistently the best we have to offer,” Roy says. “We don’t cut any corners in serving our food, and we keep a reasonable price on every dish we serve.”
Unfortunately, in spite of an outpouring of community support, Roy’s Meat Service is in the middle of a lengthy, and costly, lawsuit. A neighbor, who moved into the home adjacent to Roy’s Meat Service in 2021, long after the business was established, claims the business is a nuisance, and is seeking to bring an end to his much-loved restaurant and store, even though Roy complies with all codes and requirements. The lawsuit is pending.
Roy’s Meat Service is located at 605 South 19th Street. Find more information at RoyMeatService.com.