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.”
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