Rich's Drive-In

34th Street and Jefferson Avenue, Newport News, VA
4809 West Mercury Boulevard, Hampton, VA

1963 Krabba, p. 285 "Found this in one of my Little
League programs from 1967"
1967 Anchor, p. 202 Wednesday, December 15, 2004
Courtesy of Tom Norris
(HHS - '73) of VA - 12/09/04
Thanks, Babe!
Courtesy of Tim  Parsons 
('73) of VA - 12/15/04
COOL!  Thanks, Tim!
08/22/13 Courtesy of Dave Spriggs ('64) of VA - 12/15/04
Thanks, David!

I'll see if I can't find some "Rich's 15-Cent Hamburgers" in my freezer for ya.
I hope you remember the first Rich's Drive-In on Jefferson Avenue;
they predated McDonalds by a few months, as I recall.

Your partner in crime,
- Bill Black ('66) of GA to Dave Spriggs ('64) of VA - 08/04/04
Thanks, Fellas!

While memory is fuzzy on some things, I have no doubt about "hamburger finances".
In 1963, you could eat pretty well at McD's for $0.52:

2 burgers @ $0.15 = $0.30
1 fries @ $0.12 = $0.12
1 Coke @ $0.10 = $0.10
TOTAL = $0.52

I don't recall the Rich's on Jefferson Avenue, but I remember well the one on the south side of Mercury Boulevard at Chestnut.
It had a very distinctive roof line. The structure still exists;
it is surrounded by a chain link fence and sells camper shells and bed liners and such.

My recollection is that McDonalds appeared first on Mercury Boulevard at Martha Lee Drive.
It was so successful, that the clones soon followed: the aforementioned Rich's, and one called Gibson's just past Big Bethel.
When it closed, the building was moved around the corner and became part of a day-care center. It still exists.

Same thing happened on Jefferson Avenue; Shoney's was such a hit, that similar places sprang up.
One such was at the corner of Jefferson Avenue and Harpersville Road.
It was nearly circular, and you could drive around the parking lot in a circle in endless laps looking for friends (or girls).
We would cycle back and forth between that place and Shoney's all night.
The name has eluded me for 40 years, but writing this has caused me to flash on a name which might be it: Carroll's?

Hmmmm, I think I will have a Slim Jim and some strawberry pie tonight.

- Dave Spriggs ('64) of VA to Bill Black ('66) of GA - 08/04/04
Thanks, Fellas!


Though I am not a Class of '65 graduate (Class of '75 Bethel High), I do remember MANY of the things your website shows in the stomping grounds area. I was born in the old Riverside Hospital which was by the 50th Street entrance of the shipyard and now a nursing home?
Grew up many places around town the first 16 years of my life, and have fond memoriesof playing around warehouses near the old BeLo's, playing under the 34th Street bridge, going to Rich's for a chick wing box lunch near Suttle Motors, and many memories of downtown......

- Eric Huffstutler (Bethel High School - '75) of VA - 09/22/04
Thanks, Eric!

Hi, Carol:
... As I followed Eric's earlier message, about BeLo, Rich's, (Mr. Jimmy Rich owned Grocery Stores and then opened a chain of fast food restaurants, serving chicken) that were located on 39th Street, near the intersection of Marshall Avenue in Newport News, VA.
Also next to them was the Chesapeake and Potomac Telephone Company Complex for Residential Phones,
and a lighting store owned by Mr. Fred Christy.  I do not remember the name of his firm...
Nice brain drain,

- Joe Madagan ('57) of FL - 09/24/04
Thanks, Joe!  How you remember all these details from long ago and far away just atounds me!

I just saw the new page. I know where Rich's was located on Mercury Boulevard and cruised there as well as McD's and Shoney's.
Soon, I will capture an image of the structure, which survives, is surrounded by a chain link fence, and now sells camper tops.

The burger joint which still eludes my memory is the one once located at the intersection of Jefferson and Harpersville.
It had a drive circling the structure, which made it easy to cruise thru and return to Shoney's.
It was razed long ago and is now a car wash.

- Dave Spriggs ('64) of VA - 12/13/04
SUPER!!!  Thanks, Dave!

It was interesting to see that some people liked Rich's burgers.  Jimmy Rich was a NNHS grad. 
He was born in the 2nd floor apartment over his parent's grocery store at 25th and Jefferson - southeast
corner to be exact.  His wife, Opal, had sisters (Ruby and Pearl).  Jimmy and his wife lived at the corner
of Chesapeake Avenue at Wythe Parkway.  Karen Wilks ('64) lived at 2214.  (Karen was my best friend.)   
The Richs lived at 2301 and my in-laws, John's parents, lived at 2225, across Wythe Parkway.  They were
next-door neighbors with a street in between.  Opal's sister Pearl was the switchboard operator for decades
at Nachman's.  The Richs and Clarks were great friends and traveled together quite often.  My father-in-law
used to tell of a time they were in NYC and Jimmy used a $100 bill to light his cigar!  When John (Clark - '57 -
of VA) was small, he picked Mrs. Rich's tulips and gave them to his mom.  His folks sold their house
to William H. Shaw of Shaw Paint and Decorating.  Their son, Bill was in the class of '63.  (I was madly
in love with him!)  So there you have Rich's Hamburgers related to Nachman's Department Store
The world stays as small as you let it!

- Kathy Pilgrim Clark ('63) of VA - 12/14/04
WOWZERS!  Thanks, Kathy!

I noticed construction of some sort of building on Pembroke Avenue near Queen Street and made a mental note
 to "see what it was they were building". As it became apparent as to what it was to be, I patiently waited for the sign
to go up stating "Help wanted, apply within". Finally, it happened.

In need of some spending money, as usual, I applied. To my amazement, I was hired at the lofty sum of $1.00 an hour!
At the time the best going rate was about $0.75 per hour just about everywhere else in town. I started in the fall,
somewhere in the "late" early 60's, worked through the winter into the next summer at which time I was given a set of keys
to the building and the title "Opening Man"! My pay, $1.00 an hour!! You started off pretty good - a "hook"- but that's where you stayed,
everybody (except store managers who were paid a salary of $100.00 weekly for 6 ten hour days)! Your "reward" for good work was
"titles and more hours", not more per hour. I made $100.00 one week; I worked 100 hours, accumulated at three different locations.

I had reached the age were I needed "transportation", a car! Supported by the backing of "upper management" and at their suggestion,
I secured an appointment with "THE BIG GUY" to talk about a car loan; one I knew I wouldn't get because the car cost an unbelievably
high amount of $75.00, CASH!

The day finally came and there I sat face to face with "THE BIG GUY" with my sweaty palms and all, asking for this huge sum of money,
$75.00, so that I could buy a car.
"How much is the car?" he asked.
"$75.00", I replied.
"Does that include everything?", he asked.
"Sir?", I replied.
"Does that include title fees and tax?", he asked.
Oh no! I hadn't thought of that. Hesitantly, I said, "No, Sir."
 "Well", he said, "sounds to me like you need a $100.00 dollars, not 75.00".
Saying to myself, that's the end of that - I know I'll never get THAT MUCH MONEY - I answered him with, "Yes Sir, you're right,
I'm sorry I troubled you. (I knew it was over.)

I was getting ready to stand up, thank him for his time and leave, when he said, "How do you want to pay this back?"
"The $75.00?", I asked?
"No, the $100.00 that you need, at no interest."
"How about $20.00 a week?", I replied.
He replied," You're going to need some money for gas and other expenses; make it $10.00, OK?"
"OK!!!", I replied, "YES, SIR.  NO PROBLEM!!"
He reached into his pocket, pulled out a wad of money and gave me $100.00 !! That was the first and last time I ever spoke
with Jimmy Rich, face to face! I thought $100.00 was a fortune, not something with which you lit a cigar! And, by the way, his "home base"
 was the
Stuart Gardens Supermarket (not the official corporate offices), how about that!?

A few weeks later, Sears phoned me and asked me to come back to work for $1.35 an hour and promised they would work me
around my "ball schedule". I agreed on the condition that they understand that I had to continue at Rich's for a "few" (two to three)
more weeks until I had paid off a car loan. They said fine, call when you're ready to come to work. I worked enough hours so that
my last week with Rich's I earned just enough to make the final payment on the car loan. As a memento, for years I kept that last check:
"Pay to the order of: Wayne Stokes: Zero and 00/100 Dollars!"
Somewhere along the line I've lost it!

I was a Rich's "Super Star", worked my way past "Window Man" all the way to "Opening Man"! In my time we sold Hamburgers, Hot Dogs,
Bar-B-Ques, French Fries, Milk Shakes, and Ice Cream by the gallon. No chicken. I think the second listed store in Tim Parsons' Little
League ad is the store at which I started and mostly worked (Pembroke Avenue). But, I did put in some time at the Mercury Boulevard store
(now the camper shell, etc. place), and a couple others as a "fill in". That's how we made "extra" hours and money, filling in at other locations
for "no shows".

Oh yeah, the car I bought was the "Green Monster", the painted with a brush (by me) '54 Plymouth!

There're other stories regarding Bar-B-Ques and hot sauce, et al; I'll spare you that misery for later!!

- Wayne Stokes ('65) of VA - 12/16/04
Thanks, Wayne!


Anyone remember Rich's Supermarket over by
Stuart Gardens in a little shopping center? My first job was
bagging groceries there. The manager's last name was Hall. I remember Mr. Rich would stop by sometimes
to talk to Mr. Hall. Mr. Hall would send down to a little drug store, I think it was, to get himself and Mr. Rich coffee. 

- Glenn Dye ('60) of TX - 01/13/06
Thanks, Glenn!


I guess there are no Rich's businesses open now. I remember when he was competing in everything - supermarkets, fast food, and all. I worked
at one of his supermarket as a bagger in
Stuart Gardens. He would come every so often and all the employees plus the manager, Mr. Hall,
would start jumping   I got my points in with him when he would ask me to go next door to the coffee shop and get him a cup of coffee.


- Glenn Dye ('60) of TX - 01/23/08
Thanks, Glenn!

(This page added 12/12/04 at the request of Tom Norris - HHS- '73 - of VA.)

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