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Riker's postcard


Riker's - Riker Restaurant Associates – was a large chain of restaurants in New York. The bowl shown here is backstamped 1948; the cup has a 1950 backstamp.

According to a story at fundinguniverse.com, the Riker's chain was founded in 1919. An April 7, 1961, story titled Bread-and-Circuses Operation That Pays Off in Life magazine, Riker's was referred to as "a chain of open-all-night sandwich shops that got its big start in the '30s with an excellent 5¢ hamburger."

The following is what we were able to find about Riker's by searching in The New York Times archives:

In a business news story for the Feb. 5, 1936, issue of The New York Times is the following entry: "Riker Operating Co., for Riker Restaurants, in 1,353 York Av., corner of 72d St.; also in 360 E. 79th St., corder of 3d Av., and in 1,101 3d Av., corner of 60th St. (through O. D. & H. V. Dike; J. D. Robilotto Co., broker."

From the Nov. 13, 1938 issue of The New York Times is this story:


"Glass Brick and Stucco Used in 2d Avenue Cafeteria"

"An interesting example of a cafeteria designed on attractive lines is that recently completed by Riker's at the southeast corner of Second Avenue and Forty-fifth Street from plans by J. M. Berlinger, architect.

"In an attempt to get away from the so-called 'cafeteria architecture' so prevalent throughout the city, Mr. Berlinger employed glass brick, stainless steel, cement stucco and enameled iron.

"Around the walls of the interior, above a title wainscot base, and on the ceiling are vari-colored decorative wall papers. The base of the serving counter is of tile and the upper part in stainless steel. The restaurant is the twenty-fifth unit in the Riker chain. J. D. Robilotte Company, Inc., negotiated the lease."

By Oct. 3, 1940, according to the Times, there were "27 units in midtown Manhattan," and Riker Restaurant Associates, Inc., had just leased a six-story building at 530-32 W. 27th St., to be "the new commissary" for the chain, including "installation of a new heating plant, air conditioning, cooking and refrigeration equipment."

A Feb. 10, 1945, obituary in the Times for Samuel Sheinberg said Sheinberg was co-founder, with "the late Abraham Silver of Silver Standard, Inc.," of the Silver Cafeterias, Topps Restaurants and Rikers Restaurants."

That death left Isadore Silver as president of Restaurant Associates, Inc., which operated the chain. And Silver died Jan. 9, 1946. Apparently the original Riker's restaurants were added to the Restaurant Associates chain in 1943.

An Oct. 29, 1947, Times story mentions E. William Riker, "who formerly owned and operated a chain of thirty-six restaurants in New York."

By 1945, control of the Riker chain had gone to Philip Wechsler, according to his March 1, 1954, obit in the Times, that stated that he was chairman of the board of Riker's, Inc. at the time of his death.

The building that housed the Riker's commissary at West 27th St., was sold, according to a Jan. 15, 1955, Times story that said of the location: "The building formerly was the main kitchen, bakery and distribution center in the metropolitan area for the Rikers restaurant chain."

But apparently Rikers was not out of business at that time, as a Jan. 21, 1955 story mentioned that "Gen. Walter Bedell Smith has been elected a director of Restaurant Associates, Inc., operator of the Riker chain of restaurants, it was announced yesterday." Smith was former Under Secretary of State and director of the Central Intelligence Agency.

An interesting Times story from Aug. 7, 1960 mentions that the Riker's chain was Restaurant Associates' first acquisition. They went on to add the Forum of the 12 Caesars, the Four Seasons and La Fonda del Sol.

By Jan. 31, 1964, the Waldorf System "made a sizable investment in the common stock of Restaurant Associates." Riker's "chain of coffee shops and cafeterias" was still part of that group, as was Tavern on the Green.

And by May 13, 1965, Waldorf was on the cusp of buying Restaurant Associates. And that is the last business reference to Riker's found in the Times, so it is not known what happened to the chain after it was bought by Waldorf System.






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