John Rickey was his name. An international hotelier/restaurateur from Switzerland saw promise in the rich, unspoiled lands of Novato. In 1956, he purchased the Rancho Rafael Property (currently Inn Marin). John Rickey saw Novato as a key market, a beautiful location and just far enough away from the city to be a relaxing oasis of thought and inspiration. He vowed to spend one million dollars to refurbish it and turn it into both a social hub and a posh escape from the busy life of the city.
The restaurant at the Rancho Rafael opened in August of 1957. Promoted as an alternative to the city of San Francisco among convention delegates, by September 1957, Rancho Rafael had hosted two major conventions for PG&E and Pacific Telephone and Telegraph. Rickey’s restaurant immediately became a center for high-powered business dealings and unprecedented luxury.
John Rickey had a passion for collecting and an appreciation for fine art. On display at the Rancho Rafael were Old Master art collections and pieces, over 10,000 beer steins from around the world, 15th and 16th century copperware, art treasures from early California, and a famous Italian marble sculpture, all contributing to the aura of power and lavishness at Rancho Rafael.
From Saks Fifth Avenue Fashion shows to Sherry hours in the “Horsey Room,” Rickey’s Restaurant carved out a place in the heart of locals and visiting traveler’s alike.
Today, Rickey’s has re-opened with a new look but with the attitude and style of yesterday at heart. With an emphasis on community and a passion for serving up old-time favorites, Rickey’s, once again, has become a local place to relax and enjoy old-time ambiance and service.
Rickey’s serves old-fashioned American favorites, such as spit-roasted meats, slow smoked prime rib, and seasonal cuisine. The affordable and comfortable cuisine focuses on only the freshest ingredients from the tremendous bounty from small local growers.
Designed by the internationally known, Puccini Restaurant Group, Rickey’s handsome interior combines elements of authentic American architecture, with warm colors and a beautiful setting to create the ultimate neighborhood spot. Detail such as handcrafted mission style furniture, custom chandeliers and warm earth colors all contribute to the welcoming feel of the restaurant.