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An embarrassment of riches

30 years after the first store of the Poor Richard's complex opened, Indy readers keep showing it love

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Caf: Rico's at Poor Richard's

Wine Bar: Rico's at Poor Richard's

Toy Store: Little Richard's

Locally Owned Bookstore: Poor Richard's Bookstore

320-324 N. Tejon St.

Back in 1975, Colorado College senior Richard Skorman came up with an idea to start a used bookstore. Two years later, he expanded the humble beginnings of that idea into Poor Richard's Feed and Read, on North Tejon Street.

He only took out a one-year lease on the space because, as he says, "we didn't think it was going to succeed."

Today, after 30 years of renting, Skorman has purchased the building at 320-324 N. Tejon St., and the Feed and Read has been transformed into a formidable community complex that includes a restaurant, a bookstore, Little Richard's Toy Store and the most recent addition, Rico's, a coffee, chocolate and wine bar.

Skorman attributes much of the complex's success to recognizing needs along the way. He often took what he saw happening on the coasts and brought it toward the middle of the country, filling gaps.

"It's kind of kept up different needs of certain people in the community," he says. "It was the first restaurant [in the Springs] that had espresso, bagels, frozen yogurt."

Beyond food and drink, Skorman combined types of businesses you wouldn't normally think of putting in shared space. Today, it's not unusual to see a parent sipping a glass of merlot in Rico's while he watches his child check out the stuffed animals in the toy store, just a few feet away. Adding tables to the bookstore has opened up options for lunchtime discussion groups and evening chess clubs amid the shelves of new releases.

Identifying and welcoming opportunities for change was also important. It was when Skorman noticed that a lot of his regular customers were starting to have kids that his toy store became a reality. More recently, those same customers, many who've been with him for the full 30 years, became empty-nesters looking for something a little less Elmo and a little more chardonnay and caf Americano.

In came Rico's.

Skorman admits it hasn't always been smooth.

"Not knowing how to make pizza" before opening a pizza place wasn't the smartest decision, he says, adding that he was lucky that Joe Coleman, now of The Blue Star, "stumbled upon him and knew what to do." Since 1994, Poor Richard's has won 13 Indy awards for its pizza; this year, it takes third place in the Best Local Pizza voting.

That's in addition to the complex's seven other 2007 Best Of awards or eight, if you include the second-place nod Skorman himself earned in the category of Local Celebrity You'd Like to Meet for Lunch. And all those help make up a whopping 53 total awards since Best Of voting began in 1994.

It's about so much more than awards, though.

"There's a lot of history. We had the fire in 1982. ... Westboro Baptist Church protested out front. [There've been] bomb threats.

"Lots of interesting people along the way," he says. "It's been a fun, exciting ride."

Fun and excitement can make a person really hungry. So what has Skorman eaten to keep up his energy over the years?

"I'm a sucker for the chicken soup," he says. "It has parsnips like [the way] my grandmother made it. If there's one food that can sustain life, it's Jewish chicken soup."

And just as Skorman wouldn't imagine life without chicken soup, Colorado Springs wouldn't want to think of life without Poor Richard's.
Kirsten Akens


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