When the Travel Channel first contacted Richie Jr. about featuring Richie’s on “Food Paradise,” he didn’t want to do the show because it would be too cramped for the crew to film in the shop on a weekday.
Instead, Richie Jr. negotiated for the crew to come at 4 a.m. on a Saturday morning.
“It was a 14 or 15-hour shoot,” Richie Jr. said. “It was nuts, for like a six-minute shot. We had to do it over, do re-takes, a lot of things.”
“I wanted to be a superstar, but forget that,” Richie Jr. added. “I don’t want to make movies or shows. Not for me.”
The Travel Channel featured Richie’s Deli & Pizza on its weekly show “Food Paradise” on Sunday night in an episode titled “College Town Cravings.” The show highlights unique eateries across the country, ranging in cuisine from seafood to Italian to fast food and diners.
The network noticed Richie’s when Philadelphia food bloggers started sharing pictures of the shop’s mozzarella stick grilled cheese and buffalo chicken cheesesteak on Twitter and Instagram. The posts received hundreds of thousands of views — and the Travel Channel’s attention.
“They’d been trying to contact me for a while and they finally did a show on colleges,” Richie Jr. said. “Social media led the way for that.”
“College Town Cravings” premiered at 9 p.m. on the Travel Channel, highlighting “local legend” Richie Jr., his menu and his impact on students.
“The food is very good, but you can tell he’s super passionate about doing this work and having his own shop,” junior neuroscience and psychology student Sinead Walsh said. “He remembers everyone’s orders and he’s very personable, so it’s always nice to come back and have someone you know and knows you.”
She added she knows Richie Jr. makes an impact on campus because students always talk about him and drink iced coffee from his shop.
Richie’s has been a part of the Temple community for three generations. Richie Jr.’s dad, Richie Sr., started the legacy with his own father with a food cart on campus in 1969. Richie Sr. then established a food truck in 1975 before expanding to a trailer and acquiring Richie’s current spot at The Wall in 1996. Richie Jr. bought Richie’s from Richie Sr. and has been running it for almost 17 years, but has been a part of the Temple community for much longer.
“I was born at Temple Hospital,” Richie Jr. said. “I was born at Temple, grew up at Temple, walked at Temple, drove at Temple, everything.”
During finals week, the busiest week of the year for the shop, Richie Sr. passed away from a long-term illness and Richie Jr. closed the eatery to spend personal time with family.
While Richie’s was closed, students covered the shop with 432 sticky notes and inundated Richie Jr.’s social media sharing their support for him and his family with the hashtag #Notes4Richie.
“To see that was overwhelming, just so beautiful,” Richie Jr. said. “To see everyone getting involved, it’s so personal. I read every note, every text, every letter. I just read every single anything that was left.”
The #Notes4Richie postings are examples of students’ dedication to the Richie’s restaurant — and Richie Jr. himself.
“It’s a really warm environment when you come [to Richie’s],” said junior psychology student Sydney Matthews. “You could go anywhere around here, but it’s not like how it is here. He knows people.”
After gaining national attention, Richie Jr. plans to keep working at his shop and isn’t looking to expand anytime soon.
“To be honest with you, I really don’t care about California or overseas,” he said. “I just really care about Temple and the community and our location that we’re in here. As long as we’re all happy and we’re still here to satisfy the customers and be here for each other, I’m just really happy and content with that.”