Making the move from being a cook at a restaurant to being the owner is a big leap of faith. There’s so many more decisions to be made, aspects to factor in and problems to solve.
Richard Ritzman, 55, of Sutter Creek decided to take that leap in August of 2021 when he and his wife Michelle decided to purchase Buffalo Chips, a popular eatery in Sutter Creek. But shying away from a challenge is not something that could be said of Ritzman.
At the age of 17, Ritzman started talking to a recruiter for the United States Marine Corp. After he graduated high school and turned 18, he enlisted and started training as a machine gunner.
Ritzman served for 10 years and traveled around to various parts of the world, as well as being deployed for Operation Desert Storm.
After a decade in the service, Ritzman decided to leave the military for a very personal reason.
“I had two boys at home and I wanted to be a part of their lives,” Ritzman said.
He worked various physically intensive jobs, but as they were starting to take a toll on his body, he decided to move into a new field. But cooking was not his first choice.
“I went in to nursing,” Ritzman said. “We were in Washington and I had maintained my GPA to qualify for nursing school but when we came down here it was a lottery system. So, I decided to go back to school.”
He enrolled at Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts and learned the fine art of cooking.
“I enjoy working with my hands, so it doesn’t matter to me if it’s welding or cooking a meal,” Ritzman said.
Those years in the military helped prepare Ritzman for the hard work it would take to succeed as Buffalo Chip’s cook and owner.
“I get here at 6:30 every morning and I am the last one to leave,” Ritzman said. “Me and two other people do all the prep work and get everything ready for breakfast. Then we get to cooking.”
Located at 76 Main Street, Buffalo Chips is an ice cream dessert parlor as well as a grill serving up breakfast and lunch. The menu features breakfast standards like omelets, pancakes and French toast and lunch favorites like deli sandwiches, salads and burgers that are purported to be the best in town.
Buffalo Chips is a popular place for tourists to stop during their stay in Sutter Creek, for which Ritzman is very grateful. But it’s the locals that continue to come by routinely that really touch him.
“This is a very supportive community, especially for veterans and I’m grateful they keep coming in,” Ritzman said.