The quiet secluded harbourside suburb of Darling Point is known for its gorgeous mansions, stunning water views and convenient location – there’s even a ferry stop!
But its best-kept secret is Richie’s Café and Convenience Store: a one-stop shop and community hub run by owner and dad-of-two Richie Goldman.
Thanks for chatting to me, Richie. I’ve known you for quite a while now, and used your cafe as a second office. You’re a long-time local of Darling Point aren’t you?
Yep, 20 years! I used to live next door to the café, actually. My great grandmother moved here in 1967, in the building next door. And my grandma still lives across the road from the café – she’s 93! My mum also lives next door, but she is not well, unfortunately.
I’m so sorry to hear that. You’re obviously all a very close family.
Thank you. Yes, my mum was a fixture in this place for many years, she’d sit here all day. Everyone asks after her. And my grandma used to make the biscuits that come out with every coffee, but she’s retired now. We just make her food and deliver it across the road to her, which she loves! I think having Richie’s so close has given her a new lease on life.
How did you come to own the business?
I actually worked for a year for the previous owner – I was a barista, and I had a little cleaning company on the side so I’d do a half day here and then clean in the afternoon for the Darling Point locals. I bought the shop in 2010 on my own and worked every day for two and a half years from 4am to 8pm. I ended up single – funny that! Then a few years after that, I met my wife, we had two kids and now I’ve owned Richie’s for 10 years.
You’re the only shop in town, right?
Yeah. There’s no other commercial zoning in this suburb. This site started as a display home around 1954, then it became a little real estate agency then it became a little supermarket and chemist. And it serviced the locals well because back in the day, Coles and Woollies never opened on a Sunday so little baby convenience stores like this one did a roaring trade on weekends. And a great family owned it. They still own the property but I’ve got the lease for another ten years. Buying the business was a great opportunity. I’m very lucky.
What changes have you seen in Darling Point in the past ten years?
When I got here, the GFC hit. So we were watching removalist trucks rolling in and rolling out … and it was a lot of out with the old, in with the new. The new people who came were a younger demographic. There were a lot of babies, a lot of young mums. Now, all the wives come and spend all their money, and all the husbands come in and joke that I’m having an affair with their wife because all they see is ‘Richies’ on their credit card statement! But it’s that kind of place – they’re very welcome, they don’t have to leave, they don’t get kicked off the table, so people love coming here. My own kids have been in here since they were born!
I hear you have a dog who’s a bit of a fixture at Richie’s too…
Yep, Dude. He’s a great dog – everybody knows him!
What does Richie’s offer the local community?
We do a line in everyday groceries – your necessities; bread, milk, butter, the papers. Since Covid happened, we’ve brought in a full grocery line and a mini bottle shop and we’ve had a huge response from that. Obviously we also have a cafe. So we do breakfast, lunch, take away and now dinner as well. For the first time in the 60 years that business has been there, we’re now servicing locals til 9pm seven days a week with pizza, pasta and burgers.
Was this all part of you having to adapt to Covid-19?
Yep. We started doing free home delivery – so you can ring us anytime from 4pm onwards and say, “Richie, I need toilet paper, I need a toothbrush and can you also bring me a pizza, some chocolate and a bottle of wine?” And we’ll say, “Not a problem, we’ll be there in 20 mins”. It’s also easy to order from us on EatAppy – which was another thing we had to get going with quickly in order to be able to compete with everybody else. At the end of the day, it was either that or take less money and fire more staff and that just wasn’t an option. We all stood up and said we’d cut our hours back and make it work. And we have. We’ve also had massive support from the locals because they just don’t want to see us go. And that’s a great feeling.
You’re obviously a much-loved institution…
Yep, we try to personalise the experience for everyone, we greet our customers by name. I go to their houses; I’ve packed people’s shopping away for them! If someone’s car doesn’t start they don’t call the NRMA, they call me. I’m a car enthusiast, I’ve got motorbikes, I’ve got a jump pack somewhere so they don’t have to wait an hour to get to work or get to school. And we’ve become a bit of a safe place for the local kids, because there really isn’t anywhere else. So in the afternoon, kids from the area might come here after school if their parents are running late from work. We know the parents, and the parents know they’ll be looked after with us until they can get here to get them.
Just researching the market?
Any great dishes you guys are known for?
People tend to love our breakfast stack. And we’re known for getting your eggs right. If you want runny poached eggs, that’s how you get them. If you want them medium, that’s how they come! Our burgers are also popular – we do a great Wagyu beef burger and peri peri chicken burger. And our pizzas are also good; thin base, gluten free, I have people ringing me up saying, “Richie, this is a great pizza”.
The coffee isn’t bad either…
When I first started working here as a barista, they went through just 7kg of coffee beans per week. I told them I could better the coffee side of things for them because the coffee was just not that good. Within three months we were selling 38 kilos of coffee a week and now 10 years later we’re solid at 65kg a week.
That’s a lot of coffee!
It sure is.
What do you love about running a business in Darling Point?
The locals. I think people perceive Darling Point in a certain way, but when you actually live here, you realise that picture is all wrong. The locals may be wealthy but they’re really down to earth. They don’t walk around boasting or flaunting their wealth. It always blows me away when 3-4 years after knowing someone they turn around and tell me they’re the CEO of some massive company or they own this and that company. You’d never know it! The locals here are real, they work hard and they care about the community.
Any downsides to living here?
Well, yeah. The phone reception is shocking. You should write that, maybe something will be done about it!
Sounds like you don’t have much time off, but when you do – any favourite haunts?
I love going down to McKell Park. It’s been a big part of my life and my wife’s life. We got married there; it’s a great place to go when we have a bit of time to run around with the kids. Unfortunately, you can’t take a dog there so we do go down to Rushcutters Bay as well.
What would be your advice for people thinking of buying in the area?
It’s a great area to buy. It’s beautiful, you’re close to the city, but the suburb is so peaceful and protected. People like their privacy here, but the locals are also friendly and on for a chat.
Anything else you’d like to mention?
I’d love to just thank all my loyal customers who’ve stuck by us for the last ten years. We’ve had sickness in our family, my wife battled cancer and my mum is not well now… my personal life is so out in the open. Everyone knows me and what I’m going through but everyone who walks in asks after me, after mum. There are a lot of hugs and kisses and sincere good wishes. And during Covid, we’ve been so supported. I feel very lucky having a business here and being part of this community.
Whether you’re a local or not, don’t miss popping into Richies – you’ll find it on the corner of Mitchell Road and Darling Point Road, and it’s a great place to grab a coffee, a bite to eat or a basket full of groceries!