DOREEN

South Florida Sun-Sentinel Palm Beach (Sunday) - - MONEY -

vanilla chip, too.

“But my No. 1 best seller is cot­ton candy,” says the Co­conut Creek res­i­dent, who em­ploys three full­time work­ers. Ice tubs are stored in freez­ers on the se­cond floor of the shop.

Richie says he was a holdover ten­ant from Al­bert­sons be­fore it was taken over by Safe­way, and that his lease ex­pired in 2006. “You can’t find an­other build­ing like this — it doesn’t ex­ist.” He never got a chance to buy the store, he says, shak­ing his head.

“They lost my file. I was month-to-month for many, many years. Over the years, I’ve done all the main­te­nance of the build­ing and acted like an owner, even though I wasn’t.”

He says there are enough Star­bucks around.

“I don’t know what they are go­ing to do, build a new build­ing or what, knock it down. Peo­ple in the neigh- bor­hood are go­ing to be very dis­ap­pointed if I’m out of busi­ness.”

“No!” ex­claims De­siree Duinones, 25, when she hears the sad news. She lives down the street and stops in a few times a week to get a blue­berry ice for her son Do­minick. “I can’t be­lieve it. Richie is so per­son­able. This is like a lit­tle fam­ily here. I’ve been com­ing here since I was lit­tle. Star­bucks are ev­ery­where.”

The new gro­cery store, which is across the street from an older, busy, Publix in the Northridge Shop­ping Cen­ter, has a phar­macy and a liquor store and — sur­prise! — a Star­bucks in­side. The store has the same lay­out as the pre­vi­ous Safe­way store.

There are no plans to close the older Publix, a spokes­woman said.

Publix ac­quired the Safe­way store, along with two oth­ers in Ala­m­onte Springs and Largo, in June. In 2016, Al­bert­sons con­verted its only three Florida stores into Safe­ways after merg­ing with the com­pany in 2015. Safe­way spent nearly $10 mil­lion to ren­o­vate them, adding Star­bucks cof­fee shops and ex­pand­ing spe­cialty- and or­ganic-food se­lec­tions be­fore the ac­qui­si­tion.

“This is a land-lease deal. It’s a le­gal mess for me. I just need to move on,” Richie says. “This is a David and Go­liath story. I can’t win.”

Mean­while, Richie is search­ing for a new lo­ca­tion in the neigh­bor­hood, and says customers can keep up with him on so­cial me­dia at Face­book.com/ richicesices.

He hopes to find a new spot in the area or have one built and be open by spring. He may even go mo­bile with a truck, he said.

“I’ve had gen­er­a­tions of peo­ple com­ing here. I’ll be back. Richie’s is not dead yet.”

Face­book.com/Doreen­sDeals, Twit­ter.com/Pret­tyGoodIdeas or email dchris­tensen@sun­sen­tinel.com.

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