Growing Richards Pizza over 60 years “I started this business in 1955 because I thought that pizza, a relatively unknown menu item in the Butler County area, would catch on around here,” says founder
Richard Underwood was dating Peggy King at the time and we would drive to Cincinnati to find pizza. Richard decided he actually might be able to make a living by offering his customers tasty food made with fresh ingredients an enjoyable dining experience and consistency That first Richards restaurant was doing well, but
it was taking its own time growing. That’s when Richard began thinking about a second location. And thus was born the second restaurant – opened in 1956 at Main and “D”streets, and moved in 1970 to its present location at 417 Main Street. It was those two restaurants that put Richards Pizza on the Butler County map. The growth from there was, one might say, local and organic.
Richard married Peggy King in 1958 (a marriage that has lasted now for almost 60 years), and a few years later, daughters Karen (1962) and Gayl (1965) were born “into the business.” In the late 1980s, Karen and Gayl came on board as Richards Pizza’s second generation.
After the millennium, Richards Pizza began some serious expansion. “This was not something that we did just to be expanding,” says Gayl. “We gave careful thought and study to where new Richards restaurants would best serve and grow our customer base.” The site chosen for the third restaurant was at 855 W. State St. in Trenton, and Richards opened that location in 2004.
In 2006, Richards purchased the building that had formerly been Pusch’s Family Restaurant at 495 Nilles Rd. in Fairfield and converted it into Richards’ largest restaurant, complete with banquet rooms. Richards i n Fairfield also serves beer and wine. The beverage selection now includes both fine wine and craft beer, and the restaurant offers popular tasting events. In 2009, the Richards Pizza “chain” opened its fifth Butler County location at 20 American Way (State Route 63) in Monroe.
Eventually, it was time to say a grateful farewell
to the original restaurant on Dixie Highway. “That store was the birth of the business,” says Karen, “and it was hard to leave it. But it was too small and customers found parking difficult. However, we definitely did not want to leave the East Side of Hamilton. So in 2011, we closed the doors on the original building and moved a short six blocks south to a location that has provided our customers with easy parking, a larger dining area and a drive-up window.”
The future – say by the time Richards Pizza celebrates its 70th anniversary? Probably lots of exciting things to anticipate! But, says founder Richard Underwood of the business he started and then passed on to the care of his daughters, “Most family businesses last about a quarter of a century, and we have passed that milestone long ago I’d say Butler County is going to be enjoying Richards Pizza for quite a while yet”.