( also see Matt Bowling's History of Rickey's )

John Herman Rickey, world famous host and restaurant man, is one of Palo Alto's most widely known citizens.  As owner and operator of Ricky's Studio Inn and Hotel located on El Camino Real just South of the city limits of Palo Alto, he conducts two establishments in which Northern California may well take pride.

Mr. Rickey fist became interested in this locality when he purchased a small piece of property, upon which his restaurant is now located , while doing government work at Moffett Field during world War II.  This property consisted of five acres and a building formerly used by the Elks Club.  Mr. Rickey did nothing with the property until about the time the war was over, and then began reconstruction of the old building and opened his restaurant in 1945, and since this time numerous additions have been made, culminating in the opening of the fifty-two room, ranch-style hotel, adjacent to the Studio Inn in May, 1952.

The Rickey Studio Inn has long been noted as one of  the most favored eating places in this part of the state.  Catering to a discriminating clientele and serving the most delicious foods, some of which are flown by plane from the East, the restaurant has achieved well merited fame throughout this part of the country, and persons are attracted rom a very wide radius of Palo Alto.  In addition a number of service clubs and other groups have their regular luncheons or dinners at Ricky's and as many as two thousand people have been accommodated in in one day.  Due to the tasteful decorations, and homelike atmosphere, the restaurant gives the visitor a feeling of being in a magnificent private residence.  A special feature is the splendid collection of costly original paints, many by local artists, hanging on the walls of the various rooms comprising the restaurant.

The Hotel is something entirely different from anything else to be found in this state.  The original fifty-two rooms, which will eventually be increased to one hundred and fifty, are in ranch style structures set in a veritable garden fairyland including lawns, many beautiful trees, statuary and a large swimming pool.  Part of the hotel buildings consist of smart specialty shops, where one may purchase exclusive designed clothes, liquors, flowers, gifts, imported candy and even drugs. (transcribers note- later there was also an antique shop )

In addition to the Palo Alto establishments, Mr. Ricky also owns and operated two other restaurants in San Francisco, Rickey's Town House and Rickey's Red Chimney- the former located at Van Ness and Clay Streets and the latter at No. 3 Stonestown.  He also owns a thousand acre property known as Skyline where he has several hundred hogs, a large number of white face cattle and riding horse. The property originally belonged to ex Governor Rolf and was purchased by Mr. Rickey from Charles Howard,  Jr of the noted automobile family.

A native of Switzerland, Mr. Rickey was born on April 10, 1901, and spent his early life in Hildesheim, Germany.  His parents were Herman and Meta Rickey, his father having been a nurseryman.  At the age of fourteen Mr. Rickey came to America with a relative and located in Wehawken, New Jersey, and as a boy his first job was delivering goods for a grocery store in Jersey City, where he was ultimately put behind the counter at the munificent salary of $10.00 per month, later raised to $20.00.  His next job was with a delicatessen store in Jersey City, and after working here for about two and a half years he started a small delicatessen store of his own with six hundred dollars capital savings from his salary and tips.  In three years he sold out the business for five thousand dollars, and bought another delicatessen, and this he operated for fifteen years, the last five years running a restaurant in connection with the delicatessen business.  WHile in this business he acquired the property where it was located for fifty thousand dollars, and untimely sold the restaurant alone for sixty thousand dollars still retaining the real estate.

With the money he received from the sale of this restaurant, Mr. Rickey invested in Wall Street, and soon had quadrupled the amount of his investment.  However, he played the market too long and eventually lost everything.

Coming West in 1936, with virtually no financial resources left, Mr. Rickey went to work for the Red River Lumber Company in Westwood, california, as a steward in charge of the commissary in a logging camp with headquarters at Black's Mountain, which was sixty miles from the nearest town.  He continue there until 1940 when he took a position with the Stolte Construction Company , which firm had then just received a job to build an Army ammunition depot at Herlong, California, and Mr. Rickey set up the commissary at this place to house and feed 6,000 people.  This Herlong camp was started from scratch, water being originally brought by wagon, and at first all the cooking was done in tents.  As the subject of manpower was a vital one, it was important that a superior mess be provided  in order to prevent a turnover in labor.

Mr. Rickey's next job was to make a survey of the United States Arsenal at Ogden, Utah, for the purpose of consolidating the eight mess halls which were there.  This assignment being completed, he was called to the Alameda Air Base by the government so set in operation a commissary for those in the transit depot, and later he operated a commissary at a labor pooling camp for Stolte, Inc., and  In Alameda.  From there he came to Moffett Field to set up a commissary for Stolte, Inc., and this assignment resulted in his being attracted to this area for business purposes, and the ultimate purchase of the property for this restaurant. 

Mr. Rickey's last position prior to opening the Studio In, was at Tonopah, Nevada, where a huge concrete pouring job was in operation, and he operated a commissary providing around 20,000 meals per day for the men there employed.  When the war ended in Germany, he resigned this position and purchased a home in Los Altos with his savings from his war work, and on April 7, 1945, the Studio Inn was opened for business.

Mr. Rickey is a member of a number of worthwhile organizations.  He belongs to the Rotary Club, the Palo Alto Elks Lodge, Union League and Press Club of San Francisco and the Commonwealth Club of that city; the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce and Palo ALto chamber of Commerce, National Restaurant Association and California  Hotel Association.  He is a Scotish Rite Mason and a Shriner.

Me married Mrs. Lorraine Bentson Siddel, and he has a step-daughter Darlene.

Palo Alto Community Book- Guy C Miller, 1952
page 323
transcribed by Carolyn Feroben