ANTIOCH -- Rick's on Second is back. And, perhaps more important for longtime patrons of the popular downtown restaurant, the menu remains the same.
New owners Rob and Sabrina Cunningham reopened the Rivertown eatery Wednesday afternoon. It had been closed for three months after former owner Connie Komar put it up for sale to spend more time with her family.
After receiving a few offers, she ultimately sold it to the Oakley couple because they wanted to keep it the same.
"We saw the success Rick's has had for 28 straight years, and wanted to keep as close as possible," Rob Cunningham said.
Added Sabrina Cunningham: "It's so cute. I thought it was perfect just the way it was."
The Cunninghams kept the menu and the decor intact, right down to the tiny American flags on the table centerpieces and photos of old Antioch and antiques on the walls. Two longtime workers with knowledge of the menu were also hired back.
While Sabrina will utilize her background working in restaurants to handle the operations, Rob plans to be behind the scenes handling the marketing. He spent the early afternoon going door-to-door downtown letting people know Rick's was again open.
"Everyone was ecstatic. The first question everyone had was making sure that nothing had changed," he said.
Fans of the restaurant's sandwiches -- named after historical Antioch landmarks and figures -- and trademark after-meal cookies were glad to be back enjoying the food.
It was a pleasant surprise for longtime friends Pat Focaracci and Faye Emigh of Rio Vista. The two split a grilled tuna and cheese sandwich and peanut butter cookie after Focaracci was told by her tax accountant that the favorite restaurant had reopened.
"I was delighted," Focaracci said. "Everything is pretty much the same."
Frequent Rick's patrons Mark and Cindi Scott of Pinole, who were disappointed it had closed, were happy to grab a bite before watching a matinee at the El Campanil Theatre.
"When we got our tickets and found out it was reopening, I said 'we're in,'" said Mark Scott between bites of a Prosserville, or turkey, bacon and avocado sandwich on wheat.
Rick's on Second is named after Rick Carraher, who founded it with his wife Janis in 1986. They retired in 2011 -- exactly 25 years after signing the lease for the once-dilapidated Rivertown property.
Komar has been helping the Cunninghams with the transition, including working in the kitchen Wednesday.
"I want them to succeed so bad; they are really excited about this," she said.
Carraher also is on board, saying he's pleased the menu is the same and that Rivertown will have a "destination restaurant" to bring back visitors.
The Cunninghams plan to expand the restaurant's hours, add a breakfast menu, beer and wine service, and have pie and other foods available during intermission for El Campanil performances. They also plan to promote Rick's through social media and become active in local fundraising efforts, particularly at the high schools.
Contact Paul Burgarino at 925-779-7164. Follow him at Twitter.com/paulburgarino.