Richard’s Coffee Shop and Military Museum (Revisited)
PLUS TWO VIDEO TRIBUTES AT THE END OF THIS ARTICLE HONORING RICHARD’S AND LOCAL VETERANS.
Richard’s Coffee Shop on Main Street is one of the true “treasures” in Mooresville. It not only supports and honors Veterans, it also provides a place where people can gather, converse and get a great cup of coffee.
In addition, it is an incredible American history resource in the form of a military museum.
Richard’s Coffee Shop is the only nonprofit coffee shop and living military museum in the entire United States. The North Carolina state magazine “Our State” dubbed it “The most patriotic coffee shop in America.”
Trust me! If you have never been – put it on your “to do list” and check it out. The museum is an emotional and patriotic experience for anyone who walks through the doors.
Spotlight on the Volunteers
Everyone who works at the coffee shop is a VOLUNTEER. There are seven Board members and slightly over two dozen people who donate their time, talent and love to this benevolent organization that promotes support for our Veterans and provides them with a place to gather, reminisce and develop friendships that help them as they journey through life.
“We walked into the coffee shop on a whim one day and we never left,” says volunteer Laura Roach. “Our hearts are there even when we are not. All of the veterans have become family to us.”
Ask any of the volunteers . . . they all feel the same way. The love and respect the veterans, the volunteers, and the civilians have for one another is a rare thing to find. “Richard’s is truly a diamond in the rough,” Laura states. “It is a place where people – from all walks of life — can connect, gain support and feel comfortable.”
Visit their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/RichardsCoffeeShopMilitaryMuseum
Do You Know These Key Facts about Richard’s Coffee Shop
The shop is open from 8:00 to 1:00 and welcomes everyone – Veterans AND Civilians.
Every Thursday is “Free Cup of Coffee Day” for Veterans.
“The Vets tell me,” says Cheryl Ann Caudill — a passionate volunteer, “we don’t come for the free coffee. We come for camaraderie and the hugs and kisses we get from all of the volunteers.”
Linda Honeycutt and Gene Ervin are regulars at Richard’s Coffee Shop – especially on Thursdays. “We instantly fell in love with Richard’s Coffee Shop,” states Linda Honeycutt with a warm, welcoming smile. “We especially love the museum, the memorabilia, the patriotism, the fellowship, the conversation and – an added bonus – the coffee is great!”
Saturday is also a popular day. It is commonly nicknamed “Music Day” when area musicians – some are veterans – some are civilians – play their instruments and sing an assortment of blue grass, country and classic songs.
Richard’s Coffee Shop has a GIFT STORE – a fabulous place to buy a present for a Veteran and/or an American Patriot – so many wonderful choices. This supports the coffee shop AND all veterans.
“Pandemic Porch Dwellers” and “Street People”
During COVID, the Coffee Shop was closed; however, the Veterans needed to spend time together. As a result, they started to congregate on the back porch. As weeks and months passed, they nicknamed themselves “Pandemic Porch Dwellers.” They found great comfort in being together – supporting each other. The doors to the coffee shop have been reopened for quite some time; however, the Vets still enjoy their “porch time” together.
The benches on Main Street at the front of the coffee shop also have a nickname – those who sit and watch over Main Street are nicknamed “Street People.”
While in the coffee shop, I overheard — more than once —civilians thanking the veterans for their service. Several times, I heard a Vet reply, “It’s all because YOU are worth it.” Needless to say, those words are powerful and emotional to hear.
A Visit to the Museum is a Patriotic Experience
Some people feel that the best way to honor a veteran is to learn about the history of our American Military and the conflicts our service men and women endured.
Although the museum at Richard’s Coffee Shop is not huge – it is filled with memorabilia, information and tributes — a compact, well-organized and amazing facility – sometimes poignant – sometimes painful – always reverent.
Go alone, join a friend or take your children. No matter your age – you will walk away enlightened and grateful – knowing — those soldiers fought for our country and our freedom. They are deserving of our time, our respect and our support. NEVER FORGET . . . We are the Home of the Free Because of the Brave.
On a Vet’s First Day
The Book of Honor and the Key Chain
Those Veterans who visit Richard’s Coffee Shop are celebrated. At their first visit, they are asked to sign The Book of Honor. At that time, they are given a red, white and blue beaded key chain plus a second chain representing their branch of service or awards. This is a small token of appreciation for their service to our country.
Then, the volunteer on duty RINGS the BELL, announces the name of the Veteran and says, “Thank you for your service and WELCOME HOME!” The Vet is told “You are now part of our family and you are always welcome at Richard’s Coffee Shop.”
Currently, there are over 21,000 entries in The Book of Honor.
Bobby Caudill (fondly referred to as “Chief”) did three tours in Vietnam – his ship was the USS Tolovana. The bell pictured above was originally on his first ship. This is the BELL that is rung when a Veteran comes to the coffee shop for the first time and also used on Thursdays to announce the drawing of the 50/50 raffle.
Richard’s Coffee Shop Ambassadors
Meet Birdie and Weezie Roach – Richard’s Coffee Shop Ambassadors. These sweet, smiling, patriotic young ladies can be found riding on the coffee shop float during most Mooresville parades. In addition, they often help behind the counter and volunteer their time too!
Four-year-old Weezie is the volunteer who draws the winning ticket for the traditional 50/50 raffle every Thursday morning at 11:00. More times than not, if the winning ticket goes to a Veteran, he/she donates the money to the coffee shop – which means everybody wins!
“Ride of Pride” and “Ride of Honor”
Thursday, May 4th was a special day at Richard’s Coffee Shop – not only because it was the traditional “Free Coffee for Veterans” Day but also because the DTNA Patriotic Trucks were parked outside of the coffee shop for Mooresville residents to enjoy!
Several of the men who work at Daimler Trucks North American (DTNA is located in Cleveland, North Carolina) were at the event. They were delighted to talk with all who stopped by the coffee shop.
DTNA employees believe in America – our military and our nation – as a result, they created a way to show their patriotism.
After 911, they were inspired to spotlight our military and the men/women who serve /served our country so valiantly.
The first DTNA patriotic truck was completed 21 years ago. To date, they have decorated 38 – all of which are “working trucks” driven from coast to coast across America. If you happen to see one, be sure to check out BOTH SIDES of the truck because they are different – this makes each truck even more unique.
On the 26th of May, the “Ride of Pride” and “Ride of Honor” trucks will journey to DC for an event called “Ride to the Wall.” This patriotic event runs parallel with “Rolling to Remember” – the motorcycle parade (once known as Rolling Thunder.) Together the trucks and motorcycles meet in Arlington to raise awareness for those soldiers Missing in Action, all POWs and soldiers struggling with PTSD and depression while also honoring all who served our beloved nation – those who came home and those who did not.
This year, the Memorial Weekend schedule of events in Arlington and DC:
Friday, May 26th – Candlelight Vigil at the National Vietnam Wall War Memorial
Saturday, May 27th – Rolling to Remember 2 Mile Walk/Run, Rolling to Remember Prevention Day, Pass the Pact Act DC Rally with Jon Stewart, Guinness World record Attempt for Veteran Suicide Awareness
Sunday, May 28th – starting at Noon – Ride Day, Motorcycle Drill team Performance, Live Music. This “Rolling to Remember” motorcycle event will be held at the Pentagon Parking Lot
Meet Richard Warren – Founder of Richard’s Coffee Shop
Richard Warren was a U.S. Army combat pilot who flew a Huey attack helicopter during the Vietnam era. His call sign was “Mustang 53”.
As long-time residents of Mooresville know, Richard started the coffee shop in 1995 as a way to support, recognize and honor those in the military. It was originally called “Pat’s Gourmet Coffee Shop” (in honor of Richard Warren’s wife) and was located across the street (from its current location.)
Richard believed that Veterans Day was not only one day a year. To him, Veterans Day should be celebrated every day.
Unfortunately, when Richard died in May of 2009, many were concerned that his dream of continuing to honor, serve and “Welcome Home Veterans” was in jeopardy. Many of Richard’s regular patrons joined forces and worked to keep Richard’s dream alive. They relocated to another address (closer to Epic Chop House on Main St) and renamed it “Richard’s Coffee Shop” in honor of his legacy. As years passed, that facility became too small for the museum to grow and the Veterans to congregate. Consequently — in 2012 — Richard’s Coffee Shop moved to its current location at 165 N Main Street in Downtown Mooresville. The memorabilia and artifacts are beautifully displayed and guided tours are available upon request.
Richard’s has a New Logo
This year, the coffee shop has a new logo. Most Mooresville residents recognize the original logo on the left (in the picture below.) However, the logo on the right is the new spotlight on Richard’s Coffee Shop.
If you know a Veteran – no matter what age or era he or she served — encourage him or her to drop by Richard’s Coffee Shop. Or better yet – invite a Veteran to join YOU for a cup of coffee and some conversation. Our Veterans will instantly feel a positive connection that is not only warm and friendly but also therapeutic and healing – they will feel at home.
Before I go . . .
One last statement . . . Richard’s Coffee Shop is a non-profit – run by patriotic volunteers. Neither the Board of Directors nor any of the volunteers are paid. Cheryl Ann Caudill states passionately, “Working at Richard’s Coffee Shop is a labor of love.”
Donations are needed to stay in business. Each and every dollar is appreciated by all who patronize and give to this wonderful gathering place. Learn more: https://www.welcomevets.com/
Video Two: Honoring Military Veterans: A Candid Conversation with Veterans at Richard’s Coffee Shop & Military Museum.
Article and Pictures by Tesa Jones
Photos courtesy of Tesa Jones
Tesa Jones is a graduate of Elon College, now Elon University, a mother of two, a grandmother of five, and she currently resides in Mooresville with her husband. She is a published author, an avid blogger, and a passionate photographer. Learn more about Tesa Jones at www.booksbytesajones.com/book and contact her via:https://www.pinterest.com/cobwebsoftime/
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