‘Lil Ricki’s’ opens Saturday

Courtesy photo Lil Ricki’s will offer a variety of items beginning Saturday.

Courtesy photo Lil Ricki’s is located at 219 Duncan Bypass, Union.

Courtesy photo Lil Ricki’s is aiming to be an inviting establishment that customers will make part of their daily routines.

UNION — A coffee shop will open Saturday, offering customers several items from the menu for free.

Lil Ricki’s, located at 219 Duncan Bypass, Union — behind Gene’s Fine Foods — will be open 5 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday, July 18, and 8 a.m.-1 p.m. Sunday, July 19.

Coffee, lattés, cappuccino and cold lemonade will be served free to customers. Items on sale will include cold drinks, chips, yogurt, apple sauce, Starbuck’s Frappuccino and more.

The slogan for Lil Ricki’s is “Express Yourself,” and owner Ricki Foster looks to do that as she opens her business this weekend.

“I’ve always had the ‘American dream’ of being a successful business owner,” Foster said.

She said she began drinking coffee on a daily basis while in college.

“I’d stop before school and get a cup from the pricey chain coffee shop, and it became a part of my daily routine,” Foster said. “After a few months of that, I decided to buy myself an Espresso maker for home and began to make my own coffee.”

Foster said she has treated friends to her lattés and cappuccinos of their choice over the years.

“In 2011, I bottled up a whole two liters of my ‘Ricki’s Famous Coffee’ for my friend who lived over an hour away because she loved it so much,” she said.

For the past eight years, Foster has owned a mobile photography studio called Vizionz Photography, and her original plan was to lease the building at 219 Duncan Bypass for that.

“After getting a bit of advice from family and friends, I decided to open something that would be more in demand on a daily basis — so a coffee shop was my first idea,” she said. “My love for coffee goes into every cup and the people who’ve tried it can tell.”

Foster said she asked Facebook friends what was needed in Union without mentioning her idea, and a coffee shop was among the top suggestions. Foster is still finalizing plans to make the business a fully-functional coffee shop, and for the moment, she will sell prepackaged snacks, candy and drinks. This weekend, she will let customers try her coffee, lattés, cappuccino and lemonade for free.

“In the meantime, I’ve been perfecting recipes and giving away lots of espresso drinks to ensure that I make the perfect cup every time,” Foster said. “Hopefully the complimentary cups of coffee for customers will bring people in to see what a great place Lil Ricki’s is going to be.”

Foster said she’s building Lil Ricki’s from the bottom up with few resources.

“So far I’m happy with the work I’ve put into it and the progress I’m making from it,” she said. “Gene Gregory told me I had to crawl before I walk and that he thought it was going to do good where I’m located. Coming from a man who’s owned one of the most successful business in Union’s history, I feel blessed to get business advice and encouragement from him.”

Foster said when she decided to open the coffee shop, she naturally thought of the name she has been called by family members for nearly 30 years.

“My dad — Rickey “Cherrybomb” “Slime” Foster — only had one child, and I was given the name Ricki,” Foster said. “When I was growing up, if my dad and I were both around my family, everyone would call me ‘Lil Ricki’ to keep down confusion. My Daddy passed away three years ago, and I think about him often, knowing he would be proud of me today.”

Foster said she wants the coffee shop to be inviting to customers and become a part of their daily routine.

“I want Lil Ricki’s to be a place where people come in, look around and think to themselves, ‘I was going to get this cup of coffee to go, but I think I’d like to sit down and read The Union Daily Times and enjoy the coffee here instead,’” Foster said. “I want my customers to feel welcomed and appreciated because everyone who walks through the doors at Lil Ricki’s leads to what Lil Ricki’s can eventually become. Big dreams start with little things, and the only way I can be sure that Lil Ricki’s is a huge success is by providing satisfying service with a smile every visit!”

For more information about Lil Ricki’s, call 864-441-7669.