The article below was written by Rick Davis as part of commemorating Rick & Diane’s Brick Oven PIzzeria’s 12th anniversary in 2009. It reveals a lot about Rick & Diane’s and the family behind the restaurant—although everyone is a year or two older and Ricky the Pizza Guy is a new, unnamed, person. 🙂
Rick & Diane’s
12 Year Celebration
In 1997 I went to Antrim to do a carpentry job. I drove by this dilapidated building next to the Town Hall and thought to myself—we could have a pizzeria right there. I called the number on an old For Sale or Lease sign and talked with the owner Gary Gallagher. He told me to talk to the realtor, Paul Hardwick.
I called Paul and met him with my dad (Dick Davis) at the soon to be Rick & Diane’s. We opened the side door and walked into a disaster; the whole ceiling had fallen on the floor of the back half of the building—the roof had been leaking for quite awhile. The front half was untouched—looked like you could serve a meal with most of the tables still set up with plates, etc. My dad and I looked in amazement. The building had been vacant for a whole year. I guess the previous owner had left in a hurry!
I talked with Paul for awhile and finally asked what the owners wanted for a lease agreement. It was something like 3 years for $2,000 a month. My father was just shaking his head in disbelief. I said to Paul “Are they serious?” Paul told me to make them an offer! I asked if my dad and I could look a little longer then lock it up.
My dad was one of this area’s finest craftsmen. He had worked for old Roy Baker, then Phil Baker, and then he took over the former restoration business—called it R.H. Davis Restoration. I had also worked for Phil in my teen years and then for my dad until I was about 27 years old. Dad said to me “Rick this building is a mess; it will take at least $20,000 to do the repairs needed and all the equipment has been soaked with water for at least 6 months. This town is in a depressed state and you shouldn’t take a chance.” For many years my dad and I had been in business together—carpentry, Bowling Acres, Giuseppe’s Pizzeria, The Sport In You—so when my dad spoke, I always listened.
But this time I said to him, “Dad I’m 43. I just lost my house and my last business. I don’t want to do carpentry for the rest of my life because I love the pizza business. How about I talk it over with Diane and just make an offer as Paul Hardwick had suggested.” So I talked it over with Diane who was eight years into her struggle with M.S. She was scared because we were comfortable in Peterborough. We prayed together and talked for awhile. Diane asked me about coaching the High School softball team. I had promised her back in ’97 that I would not coach at all while we started out in another business venture.
I give my wife Diane most of the credit for our success. She is the one who sacrifices while I do what I do best, start a business. That’s where we came up with Rick & Diane’s Pizzeria. Although I’m always the one out front, Diane has been and will always be the wind beneath my wings. So I said I would like to name our business Rick & Diane’s, to always remember that Diane is a big part of anything we do together.
Diane and I married in 1972 and I was always pushing forward into some sort of business. She would shake her head and say “Do you really think that we can do this?” So right up to this very minute Diane and I have always been a great team.
Getting back to starting Rick & Diane’s—we make a low-ball offer through Paul Hardwick and believe it or not the owner accepted and we signed a 3-year lease with the option to buy in the year 2000.
1997—1999: The Early Years
During the early years we really struggled mostly with personnel. We went through a lot of help and almost gave up when Diane’s M.S. got bad in 1999 but we continued to pray together and knew that God had a big plan for us here in Antrim. I think the turning point was the year 2000 when we got involved in the town of Antrim’s celebration. We had a float in the parade and I was tossing our “throw dough” (rubber dough that we use to practice hand-tossing) and all the people were cheering me on. I thought to myself, “Wow this town of Antrim does have some spirit.” So Diane and I decided that we were going to buy the building and invest our lives into a long term exciting project of making Rick and Diane’s the best pizzeria around.
2000—2007: The Great Years of Blood, Sweat and Tears
We bought the building in 2000 and the renovation began. My carpentry skills came in handy and over two years I basically renovated the whole building on my days off. I got some help from my dad, but he went home to be with God. I continued to get help from my son Nick and my brothers Ken and Mike. Mostly I worked every spare minute to make improvements to our building. One of the key improvements was installing new picture windows and entry way at the front. We also moved the entire kitchen from the back to the front of the restaurant so I could make a small apartment in the back of the building for Diane and me to move into so she could be close by.
Then we bought the oven—positively the best oven I’ve ever used—to make the best pizza. The wood stone oven weighed 4,000 pounds and I had to cut a 12 by 8 foot hole in the side of the building to get it into the kitchen. You’ve probably noticed the painting of the brick oven on the outside of the building. This oven bakes the best hand tossed pizza because of its beehive design.
2007-08: Our 1½ Year Off
We decided to sell our building in 2007. Our goal was to always work together and Diane’s M.S. continued to slowly get worse. I really wanted our son Nick to work with us and carry on this great business but the timing wasn’t right. So, Diane and I decided to sell. For 6 months we had a lot of interested people who wanted our business but no one could come up with the financing. So we leased the business for 1 ½ years but unfortunately it didn’t work out for everyone.
2009: We’re Back!
This year has been the most exciting I’ve ever had in our many family businesses. The timing was right for Nick to rejoin our team. Our son Nick is 35 years old and had been general manager for Monadnock Springs Water for almost ten years. He wanted to leave that job and help rejuvenate Rick and Diane’s and himself. Diane and I knew our prayers had been answered. After one year of working together we make a great family team. From the age of 10 Nick has always worked in our many family businesses from the Bowling Acres days in 1984 to today.
Angela, our 33 year old daughter, takes care of our books and during her high school years worked at Giuseppe’s Pizzeria during the 1990s.
Jackie, our 32 year old daughter, also has done a lot with our family businesses. She also worked at Giuseppe’s Pizzeria during the 1990s, and then worked at Rick & Diane’s during the early while she was attending college.
Now our grandchildren, Brian 13, Annalise 12, Arielle 11, Austin 6, and newborn Ashlyn Brooke will all get a chance to be part of the team in the future.
We also happen to have the best workers around with EJ, Richard, Katie, Kathleen, Jaime, and Ricky the Pizza Guy (it’s really Gabe Sawich inside the costume). Some of the staff has been with us a long as 8 years.
We’re very thankful to be back serving this great area. The excitement is back even at age 55 Diane and I remain very happy and excited to serve wherever we can.