For 50 years now the folks of Sheepshead Bay — and everyone else who knows what's up — have been scarfing down hot and cheezy roast beef sandwiches at Roll n Roaster. And, honestly, it doesn't look like anything has changed since it first opened in 1970, with its steadfast embrasure of the yellow-brown-orange palette of that era, and an emphatic "more is more" philosophy to its signage. The prices, too, seem stuck in the past, and you can easily get a meal for two for under $25.

Can a fast food restaurant be considered a NYC treasure? When it remains as committed to its character, and to the community it serves, as does Roll n Roaster, the answer is absolutely.

Earlier this week I hopped on a Citi Bike and made the long ride to the end of Bedford Avenue—round trip, with eating, took over two hours, and cost me $12.75 in overage charges—to see how the venerable place has fared during the pandemic. Chatting with the manager, it turns out that, after "a few terrible weeks" immediately following the citywide shutdown in mid-March, business is now pretty good, running about "80% to 90%" of what would normally be expected for this time of year.

There were ten employees working at a time, all gloved and masked, and distancing among customers is strictly enforced. You can pre-order over the phone, or on the Roll n Roaster app (I tried the latter, and it's easy and efficient), and then pay when you pick up your food at the counter. There's also a delivery option, or just walk in unannounced for some takeout. There's plenty of space inside, so waiting for my food didn't make me feel too anxious.

There's no seating here at the waterfront near Roll n Roaster, but it's a nice view.

Scott Lynch / Gothamist

Finding a spot to eat your food is another issue. Most customers take their bags of goodies elsewhere, or eat in their car, but for cyclists far from home there's a shelf out front on the sidewalk that worked out okay. It's too bad that one of the only places to sit along the waterfront across the street is a cramped, poorly maintained area.

The food itself is comforting and satisfying, especially the Roast Beef Sandwich with gravy, and even more especially the Cheez, which you should pour all over everything. Skip the sweet, crackery pizza through, even if you're offered it for free because you spent more than $35. And my Black and White Milkshake, apparently containing an entire pint of ice cream, was fantastic.

Roll n Roaster is located at 2901 Emmons Street, at the corner of Nostrand Avenue, and is currently open for pickup and delivery on Sunday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., and on Friday and Saturday from 11 am. until 11 p.m. (718-769-6000;