David Dalton was greeted by Lily and Ritchie Juniors’ smiles when passing by their food truck in 1969 in search of a cup of coffee. Their warm welcomes and familiar faces are what kept him coming back to their multiple locations at Temple University’s Main Campus for more than 50 years.
“They tend to remember the names of people they see frequently,” said Dalton, a chemistry professor. “It always surprised me, in fact, that not only did Ritchie know what my name was, but he knew the names of any number of patrons who would come by.”
Richie’s has been a Temple staple since Grandpa Ritchie first parked his coffee cart outside the library on Main Campus in the 1950s to provide a quick pick-me-up to commuters and students, like himself, enrolled in night classes. By 1969, Grandpa Ritchie expanded his menu beyond coffee and opened a food truck, which eventually was passed down to his son, Big Ritchie, and later, Richie Junior, who relocated to their current location on The Wall in 1999.
Although Richie’s has evolved and relocated during the span of 52 years, their presence in the community has not. Much like his father and grandfather, Richie Junior strives to connect and form relationships with customers to strengthen the sense of community and provide a reliable outlet for those at the university, he said.
On Sept. 20, Richie’s opened their third location on campus, Richie’s Cafe, on Warnock Street near Berks. The cafe is their first location that operates without a family member and is an experiment to see how they can keep the Richie’s spirit alive with separate management, Richie Junior said.
“It’s not going to be exactly the same, but we are trying to keep the core there,” Richie Junior said.
Jessica Lachowicz began visiting Richie’s as a freshman on campus in 2017, and began working there her junior year. Although Lachowicz graduated in May with a tourism and hospitality management degree, she continued to work at Richie’s main location on The Wall until September when she became an associate at Richie’s new business, Richie’s Cafe, because she valued the sense of community and familiarity of Richie’s.
Lachowicz still feels connected to customers, staff and the Temple community while working at their new location, she said.
“Customers can walk in, and I pretty much already know their order,” Lachowicz said.
“We’re just really excited about this space as well, because we feel like there’s more opportunities for people to come and study and prepare for classes or professors to just kind of like, take a minute to chill between classes as well. It definitely builds up the community as a whole.”
Kaitlyn Mulvey, freshman health professions major, has only been on Temple’s campus for two months and already has a strong bond with Richie and his employees, she said.
She stops by Richie’s after class everyday to say ‘hi’ or chat with Richie, Mulvey said.
“[Richie’s] is what makes me come outside and leave my dorm, because I don’t leave,” she said.
Lauren Henderson, a junior exercise and sports science major, relies on Richie’s to relax before class, she said.
“He gets my coffee ready and he is just so nice to talk to before I go to my biology class,” Henderson said. “The Temple community wouldn’t be a community without Richies.”
Richie values the relationships he has formed with customers over the years and hopes to continue providing that sense of friendship and community at his new cafe, he said.
“We’re grateful, thankful, for the students, for the university and the community,” Richie Junior said. “That’s one of my biggest things, because, you know, at the end of the day, we’re all family. We all need each other.”