Richie Jr.’s day starts when his alarm goes off at 3:15 a.m.
Richie Jr. is the owner of Richie’s, one of the storefronts on The Wall on 12th Street near Polett Walk. He often opens before the sun rises and is a familiar face to most on Main Campus.
In 1952, Richie’s grandfather was taking English classes offered in Paley Library and noticed there was a lack of snack and coffee shops on Main Campus, so he opened a small food cart on 13th Street.
Richie Sr. took over the truck in 1975 and the restaurant established a storefront on Main Campus in 1996. Richie Jr.’s parents continue to work on campus in Richie’s Lunchbox, a food truck located on 13th Street near Norris.
Richie Jr., who took over the shop in 2000, said being the face of a business with a generational past has been an “amazing journey.” He was born in Temple University Hospital and said Temple “is in [his] blood, [his] DNA.”
“I tell everybody I’m born on campus, grew up on campus, do everything else on campus. My goal is not to die on campus,” he added.
During the school year, Richie’s is open six days a week and offers an array of options including salads, sandwiches, burgers and coffee. This year, he added iced coffee, available in flavors like french vanilla, caramel and hazelnut, to the menu because of customer demand.
By 4:30 a.m., Richie Jr. said he’s on campus to ensure the local ingredients he uses, like eggs and bacon, are being delivered properly and he can start to prep for the day.
Throughout the day, Richie Jr. said the shop has hourly rushes, due to classes ending, until early evening, when his staff starts cleaning up for the night. He said he typically gets home around 10:30 p.m.
“Then it’s 3:15 all over again,” he said. “There’s no time really to stop. It’s just mind over your body. It’s just really kicking butt. There’s no slow speed. We’re just constantly going.”
Richie Jr. said he is “everyone’s competition” and that he serves hundreds of customers a day.
“I don’t even know how many cups of coffee I sell,” he added. “I just can’t keep track. My whole goal for the day is to make it through the day, make everybody happy.”
Richie Jr. said he caters to “everyone in the Temple community,” including students, faculty and alumni who return to campus.
For him, the customers are the “adrenaline rush” that get him through the day and keep him “on [his] toes.”
“I do it for the love of the customers. I really do,” he added. “It’s what pushes me to come up with different things and different ideas. Temple loves to hear that. Temple loves to keep the people together. … It’s been exciting every day.”
Josh Josephs, a senior risk management and insurance major, has been going to Richie’s since his freshman year. When Josephs visited Richie’s for his second time, Richie Jr. remembered he had ordered a pork roll breakfast sandwich on a kaiser roll the first time — the sandwich that would become Josephs’ “usual.”
“It was loyal customer service,” Josephs said. “He always makes it fun and enjoyable.”
Despite the success of Richie’s on Main Campus, Richie Jr. said he has not considered expanding to other college campuses.
“You come to Richie’s, the owner is here,” Richie Jr. said. “I care about everyone here. That’s the big thing.”
“I make it different than anyone else,” he added.
Grace Shallow can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.