Fifteen years ago, Gary and Janet Crow saw an empty shell of what used to be Richmaid Restaurant. They decided to purchase the building and open up their own restaurant.
Richmaid originally opened in 1938 at 100 S. Cherokee Lane, when Cherokee was the old Highway 99. It was a creamery and car hop where restaurant employees made their own ice cram.
“It’s like a 50s-style soda shop,” said Michelle Bustamante, the Crows’ daughter who also manages the restaurant.
The new version of Richmaid, which Gary and Janet Crow opened on April 1, 1998, had a special 15-year anniversary celebration Friday through Sunday. They waited to have the celebration until after Easter weekend, Bustamante said.
Upon walking in the front door, customers are greeted by a life-sized replica of Capt. Hook, who appears to be staring right in their faces.
“It was something my dad saw in Rio Vista, and he said ‘I have to have it,’” Bustamante said.
After Janet Crow told her husband there’s no way Capt. Hook was going to be a fixture in their house, Gary decided to bring it to Richmaid about four years ago. Then Gary Crow had the fish tank next to Capt. Hook remodeled into a pirate theme.
As it turned out, Capt. Hook attracted younger families to the restaurant. Sometimes, children will tell their parents, “I want to go to the pirate restaurant,” Bustamante said.
Ninety percent of Richmaid’s customers come in every day to eat, she said. However, to attract younger families, children are fed for free on Mondays and Thursdays with a paying adult.
Richmaid is your prototype family operation. In addition to the Crows and Bustamante, another Crow daughter, Kim Ruby, works there as well.
The Crow bought Richmaid after a career in food service. Gary was in food sales and restaurant management, while Janet was a waitress for many years at Carrow’s, which used to be at Kettleman and Cherokee lanes.
In addition to Capt. Hook and the pirate fish tank, you can find old photos by Lodi historian Ralph Lea, who happens to be a regular customer. The Crows also found some old artifacts from Richmaid’s early days in the basement. One was a carton of Richmaid ice cream. A second ice cream carton was donated by a customer.
The Crow family lived for many years in Galt, and Bustamante still lives there. Ruby lives in Lodi, and their parents live in Isleton.
Contact reporter Ross Farrow at email@example.com.