Deborah Snyder, 2014 summer Front Manager of Rika’s Cafe & Pantry
“This is such a peaceful, beautiful location!” “Your food is the best we have had compared to all of our stops!” “Do you make your own food?” “Does the soup have gluten in it?” “Are the gifts locally made?” “What a lovely gift shop!” “Do you live here?”
These are just a few of the questions and comments I heard over the summer. Each day presented itself with its own unique pleasures and challenges. Every tourist that walked through that door seemed excited for next the adventure; whether it was a hot cup of coffee with pie or a full meal. They were like spring baby birds, so interested and eager to learn about the world of the Delta Historical Park’s main character, Rika, and the area.
The meandering Tanana River, the chattering of squirrels, the occasional “Baaaa” of sheep, the rooster’s crow, the buzz of bees, the flutter of leaves in the breeze…and then the drooping of flower blossoms because of the relentless summer rains we experienced this past summer. All these and the busyness of the Café & Gift Shop were a sheer delight as I made my day’s priority to greet each guest and make their time at the park enjoyable, pleasant, and memorable. I felt privileged to be a part of their Alaska Experience. These guests were making their own history.
After the school year began, I was especially pleased to serve two young boys who were famished after a day at their studies. They would quickly make their way to the door and swoop down on the goodies baskets or drinks in the cases. Then approach the register with the confidence of a successful business man to pay for their selections. They said they had earned their money working for their grandfather. I was sorry we made their acquaintance at the end of our open season; their rumbling stomachs would have to be patient for Mom’s kitchen pantry after their trek home.
Rika’s Café & Pantry offers a much needed reprieve for the weary traveler after long hours of sitting in their vehicle. It is an opportunity to stop and enjoy the ambience that the park offers, to learn about some of our history, and visit with any residents they may encounter.
Not only is Rika’s Café & Pantry a place to eat, but it is an incentive for the traveler stop and for locals to bring visiting family and friends. A place where they can enjoy time around the table and an opportunity to learn about the history of what made Big Delta and Delta Junction a place to stop and enjoy.
Let’s not forget, also, that the park is a beautiful setting for a wedding, a family reunion, and picnic on the green. The restaurant offers a service to those wanting to celebrate any event. And the Vendors!!! Those in our community that need a venue to sell their wares. We have a variety of talent in our area, and Rika’s is one place the buses and tourists will stop to visit. Many of our local vendors’ wares were purchased and went to homes, not only in the Lower-48 but across the globe.
The Department of Natural Resources has issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) for food services at Big Delta State Historical Park. All the details can be found on the state’s online public notice system.