Richards Pizza looks to expand in Hamilton with tacos and more seating

Meanwhile, Main Street parking is becoming an issue as more businesses open.

Richards Pizza plans to expand its Main Street location in Hamilton, as well as its menu there, to add tacos and other Mexican food, and offer outdoor dining.

The expansion idea was seeded around the start of this year when Karen Underwood Kramer and her sister, Gayl Underwood, made a proposal to the city to create a separate Mexican restaurant at the former Ritzi Body Shop, located at Main and E streets, Kramer said.

Instead, city officials entered into an agreement with Agave & Rye to put in an upscale restaurant and bar there.

The Richards location at 417 Main St. also sold Mexican dishes until 1992 when, because of growing demand, the kitchens weren’t big enough to prepare pizzas and the Mexican fare.

Richards asked on social media whether people were interested in a return of its Mexican food and the response was encouraging.

“We thought it was a good idea, and then it fell through, so we didn’t want to completely give up on it because we still had people who were commenting on wanting the Mexican food.”

With the Spooky Nook Sports Champion Mill indoor sports complex and convention center set to open in early 2022 and the popularity of the catering and banquet rooms in Fairfield, “we thought, well, why don’t we just take over our warehouse (at 409 Main), which is right next door, which we already own, and expand Richards Pizza?”

“And, with the additional kitchen space, we can add the Mexican food, kind of like it used to be 30-some-odd years ago,” she said.

The property they use for a warehouse “is really under-utilized for a building on Main Street,” Underwood Kramer said. “It should be utilized for something productive.”

With the expansion, “we’re doing a whole bunch of really nice things,” she said, with modernizing it inside and out, plus outdoor seating. Richards has two restaurants in Hamilton, and one each in Fairfield, Monroe and Trenton.

The Main Street restaurant may change in three or more stages, which may include expanded banquet areas, plenty of parking and seating on weekends for Hamilton customers as well as out-of-town visitors. She promises that longtime customers will continue to enjoy the restaurant.

Parking along Main Street a concern

Underwood Kramer and others at a recent Hamilton City Council meeting expressed concerns about a possible lack of parking along the Main Street corridor as new apartments, shops, bars and restaurants open, many in anticipation of 10,000-plus that will visit Spooky Nook on many weekends.

For the Richards expansion, the owners and architects believed the minimum number of parking spots they would need was 63, “and we were up to 75,” to make sure parking would be ample, Underwood Kramer said.

One way they found more parking was to convert a house they own on Ross Avenue into an Airbnb rental property, rather than one that will be rented to families. That change allows them to use the house’s backyard for employee parking.

She said Richards was trying to make sure it had plentiful parking for its customers without using parking on Main Street, “but hey, you never know.”

She and others were concerned that parking from the proposed Rossville Flats, with about 75 apartments and four street-level retail spaces, might occupy too much parking along Main Street, but city staff worked to create more parking nearby on other properties that the apartment residents will be required to use.

“We didn’t want to get into parking wars, put it that way,” Underwood Kramer said. “I like Jim Cohen (owner of Blue Ash-based CMC Properties, which is developing Rossville Flats). I’ve known them since they’ve been in the market. I wanted to address all these issues up-front, not after the fact.”

Asked how she felt about the city’s solution, she said: ”I felt like they made more of an attempt to handle it than they would have if no one had said anything.”

“I’m sure they’re in a difficult position, too, because they want the development, and they’re having to balance the needs and wants of everybody.”

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