‘Taste of Ric’s’ this Thursday

Event one of many community efforts

DONATING TO THOSE IN NEED—Dave Brickner, Ric’s Food Center store manager (right) with volunteers from Lean On Me outreach center and a day’s worth of donations. The store gives daily to Lean on Me and has done since day one. This is just one example of Ric’s community involvment.

DONATING TO THOSE IN NEED—Dave Brickner, Ric’s Food Center store manager (right) with volunteers from Lean On Me outreach center and a day’s worth of donations. The store gives daily to Lean on Me and has done since day one. This is just one example of Ric’s community involvement.

“If you leave here hungry, that’s your fault,” said Ric’s Food Center Store Director David Brickner. Brickner is excited to offer another “Taste of Ric’s” event, free and open to the public this Thursday, December 3 from 4 to 7 p.m. at the store, 6767 Belding Road.

Several dozen vendors will offer free samples, giveaways, and demonstrate recipes of their most delicious food items. Ric’s hosts such events periodically and the turnout and response is always enthusiastic. “We are all running around with smiles on our faces,” he said of staff who also look forward to the events. “This gives our vendors a chance to shine, and it gives us a chance to show our customers what we are capable of.”

From sweet treats including ice cream, egg nog and Max and Emily cheesecakes, to Dellalo oils, dipping spices, cheeses and other Italian specialty items, Brickner said the store’s suppliers love the chance to prove how good their items are. “We barely had to whisper this to our vendors and they were right on board. They see how much excitement is generated by these events and love to be part of it.”

Many suppliers deliver multiple items to the store, and many are specialty or gourmet that have a reputation for fine quality. They offer a variety of their products for tasting, and many have become household names that people look for. “We have Honey Boy Bobs, Paramount Coffee, Schuel, Carmela, Boar’s Head, Maceri and Sons, and more.

Ric’s own in-store products, such as prime rib and the kielbasa created by one of the store’s butchers, Pat Ober, will also be featured. “These are internal items that we have become famous for,” Brickner noted. Other everyday names, such as Nabisco and Keebler-Kellogg will have booths.

“We love to show our customers what we have to offer, not just for the holidays but for their everyday full grocery needs,” Brickner said. Customers new to the store are encouraged to make their first visit during the Taste of Ric’s. “You are not expected to spend dime one while you are here.”

Brickner said people wonder how the store can afford to offer such a costly event, but he and the staff, along with vendors, relish the opportunity. It is an example of how community-oriented the company is, not only in their store here but in the other Ric’s.

The company is strong in their policy of being involved in each community where the stores are located. Toys for Tots has been very successful in the company and Brickner points out the Belding Road store is also a Toys for Tots drop off location. They also collect non-perishable canned goods for food pantries and are a major donator to Lean on Me outreach center.

“Ric’s is a huge blessing to Lean on Me,” said Director Lisa Shaffer. She said the store helps them fill the food baskets that are so important to people struggling, especially now. “We had a family of six come in today who are losing their home to foreclosure,” she said. With help of Ric’s and others, the center has filled nearly 25,000 food baskets in 2009.

Brickner said it is a daily routine for each of his department managers to select for the center items that are still good, but no longer belong on the store’s shelves. “None of us can see this food going to waste,” he said. Finding organizations that are reputable and giving what they can is another company-wide policy that the local Ric’s is happy to embrace.

“We are happy to work with them,” Brickner said of Lean on Me. He said when the store was still interviewing for it’s new staff prior to opening, he was asking around to find local charities to partner with in helping others.

“They are very happy to be doing what they are doing,” he said of Lean on Me volunteers. “They use all we give them and make the best use of the food we donate. In these times everybody has to do what they can to help.”

Giving away food to those in need and for fun to show what the store and its suppliers have to offer are two different faces of one grocery. Ric’s Food Centers invites all to stop in, say hi and try their taste buds on a delicious variety of specialty and every day items that the store offers all year around. The new item you try out may become your family’s next favorite to serve up regularly.

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