2022_02_23 Fox Focus
With fan favorites like the buffalo chicken cheesesteak, mozzarella stick grilled cheese and chicken finger wrap, Richie’s is one of the hottest food spots on Temple University’s campus. Known for its strong relationship with its customers and their infamous all-day breakfast menu, the family-owned sandwich shop has made students and the Temple University community their priority since it was established in the 1950s.
“Our set menu puts great emphasis on foods that fit both the students’ and faculties’ needs,” says Richie Jr. “We pride ourselves for our quick service.”
This campus staple was established by Richie Jr.’s grandparents when the family first moved to the U.S. from Albania to flee communism. Originally, Richie’s was a convenience-style storefront, open seven days a week. Richie Jr.’s father then took over running the storefront for a few years and his wife helped establish the menu. Together, they continued putting great emphasis on the consistency of high-quality customer service. In 1999, Richie Jr. bought the shop from his grandfather. Since then, the third-generation owner has become the face of the storefront at Temple’s outdoor food court, known as “The Wall.”
“Our loyal customer base that Temple has allowed me to set off on business ventures to expand the brand,” says Richie Jr. “We faced some challenges during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, which led us to shift some of our priorities. Though Temple students’ support of the business has helped us break even and make it through the toughest parts of the pandemic.”
Despite the hardships that the business faced during COVID-19, Richie Jr. was still able to successfully open the new Richie’s Cafe, located on Warnock Street, last September.
“We have wanted to make this investment for so long and originally were looking to potentially expand our business to Center City,” says Richie Jr. “When we heard we were nominated for that space after Sage Cafe had closed, we made sure to take full advantage of the opportunity. When Temple accepted us, we decided to hire a designer and architect because we had the funds to go full out and create an amazing space.”
Richie Jr. emphasized how Richie’s Cafe has done better business than he ever expected or dreamed.
“My cafe is focused on coffee and has great food with ingredients made from scratch,” he says. “Because we sell a massive amount of coffee a day, we decided to partner with La Colombe Coffee in order to keep providing our customers with quality drinks.”
Not only does Richie’s focus on their great relationships with their customers, but they also make sure to stay loyal to the companies that supply them with the products they need for their business. Their business has kept the same companies as suppliers since Richie Jr.’s father ran the shop.
“Honestly, we are just blessed to be a part of the Temple community. I really love Temple and I am grateful for coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic strong and lucky,” says Richie Jr.
Five lessons that the Fox community can learn from Richie
- Keep the prices of your products competitive, but affordable for the audience you are trying to reach.
- Spend time building trust and loyalty between you and your vendors. The better relationship you have, the more they are willing to accommodate your needs.
- Teamwork is key to mass-producing products and keeping efficient service.
- Show your dedication to your customers by creating a welcoming environment.
- Use your own knowledge and experience to teach others how to successfully build their brands.