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Richie’s drive inn is located on N. king street, a street away from Toshi’s okazuya (you can read my post about Toshi’s here: https://smilemakeothershappy.com/2018/01/22/toshis-okazuya/)
Before it was Richie’s there was a garment factory where they sewed clothing. I don’t remember the name, being only about 4 or 5 at the time the fire broke out. I was frightened by the flames and black smoke coming from the windows that filled the air. We lived right next door to the factory. Our little lane was filled with fire engines spraying water not only on the burning building but the near by houses so that they wouldn’t catch fire. My mom sent my younger brother and I to my uncles house two blocks away to stay over night. When we returned home only the blackened remains were left.
The Empty Lot
After the fire the building was torn down leaving only the concrete foundation. This is where we kids would play. We rode our bikes, played dodgeball, volleyball, four squares, hop scotch, jump rope, marbles, and jacks. We built ramps to jump over with our bikes too. A few years later the people/company that owned the lot put up a chain link and wooden fence to keep people out. This didn’t deter us. We simply squeezed through the space between the wall of the building next to the lot or climbed over from our side of the wall. With the building materials left behind we built rickety structures (my dad is a carpenter so we used his tools) for club houses, one for us girls that had a sign that said, “No Boys Allowed,” and one for the boys that had a sign that read “No Girls Allowed.” Even with the club houses we still had a lot of open space to play our our games.
At the end of my middle school years construction began on the site of the empty lot, gone was our play ground. As the construction progressed everyone in the neighborhood speculated on what would be built. When we found out that it would be a Churches Chicken we were surprise but happy because we didn’t have a fried chicken restaurant in the are. When the doors opened for business people lined up to sample their food. Back then you could buy a drumstick, half a corn on the cob, biscuit and small drink for a dollar! I thought Churches Chicken tasted better than KFC. We kids were regulars there and made friends with the workers who’d give us some freebies every now and then. Unfortunately Churches didn’t do well and the doors closed before I graduated from high school. We cried as we said farewell to our friends and wished them well.
Thirty Years and Counting
Richie’s drive inn opened its door the year our son was born and is still there today. The aunties (most of the old time workers who were there from the beginning) are still working there. One of the aunties gave our son the nickname “La Bamba” because every time we played that song on the juke box (it was the days with 45s) our son would dance. The aunties would even give him quarters just to see him dance because he was so cute.
My favorite plate lunch from Richie’s is sold only on Tuesday and Thursday’s , it’s their special of the day, it’s the shoyu Chicken. The most popular plate lunch was their chili dog plate. It came with two scoops rice, one scoop macaroni salad, a hot dog, chili all over, and a small drink for $4.00. (That was back in the 80s, I don’t know how much it costs now). If you’re going for the special of the day you need to go before twelve because they sell out fast.
Passing of Time
Since they opened their doors many changes have taken place. They enclosed the dining area. They took the bus stop away, now it’s a street over, and the taste is not the same for some of the items on the menu. Despite the changes it’s nice to go back and see familiar faces and catch up on what’s happened since our last visit and revisiting the past.
Have a Smiley Day 😄