Rick’s Rather Rich Ice Cream subscribes to a succinct underlying principle: There is beauty in simplicity. That philosophy manifests itself in many ways, most prominently through the parlor’s decor and flavors.
Upon entrance to Rick’s, warm colors of pink and yellow greet the eyes, and a display of 48 ice cream flavors steals the attention of customers. Like the decor, the ice cream is simple and bold, with flavors spanning from “Cotton Candy” to “Kulfi.” It is this simplicity that has allowed Rick’s to remain a cornerstone of the Palo Alto community since its opening in 1953.
Kiki Kohsla became part-owner of Rick’s in 2012, and has since served as the parlor’s manager. Khosla and her family knew that they wanted to get involved in a small business, and when the opportunity came along to buy Rick’s, they couldn’t say no.
“We were looking at buying a small business and didn’t really know exactly what we wanted to get into,” Khosla said. “Rick’s came through and we tried the product and I think that’s what sold us.”
Kohsla soon found out, however, that running a small business was no easy feat. This hardship was intensified by Rick’s location in Palo Alto, an area notorious for its astronomical rent prices.
“Everything has gone up in prices, but we cannot be relaying all of that extra cost onto the customer because there’s only so much that we can expand our product,” she said.
Yet despite hardships, Rick’s has been able to garner a loyal consumer base largely because of the unique flavors that it offers.
“I know some flavors might make you think ‘I’m not sure’ or ‘Should I even try this?” Khosla said. “Some people just have presumptions about what something might taste like. But once you kind of try and expand your horizons, I think you’ll be surprised.”
And Khosla’s still adding new flavors.
The ideas for flavors usually stem from Khosla’s life experience as an ice cream connoisseur. From there, Khosla consults Rick’s chef, and the two tweak the flavor profile until they get it just right. Finally, Khosla presents the proposed flavor to her family, and at last, after making the changes her family suggests, the finished product is offered for purchase.
“Everything that’s creative with the business has always been my thing,” Khosla said. “It helps me explore more of my own creativity and I’ve always just loved that.”
These days, Rick’s — like many other small businesses — is doing the best that it can to get through the pandemic. But even at a time when making connections is more difficult than ever, Khosla noted how the Rick’s community has continued to support the parlor. This support was shown when Rick’s, in need of financial support, launched a GoFundMe asking for donations in March of 2021.
So far, Rick’s customer base has raised over $22,000.
“We weren’t really expecting them to show that much support, especially during the lockdown, but they did,” Khosla said. “We’ve always been glad that we are part of such a caring and aware community that helps small businesses.”