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Kingston has seen a few restaurants with the name “Rick’s” on the sign over the years. Chef Rick Korn’s latest, Rick’s Food & Spirits, is just the spot to bring in locals and destination diners alike. Korn has been in the restaurant business since he was 14, starting at the Kozy Korner in Kingston. In 1998 he opened Rick’s Cafe and Grill, followed by Rick’s on Mill Pond and Rick’s Pond View. After a two-year hiatus from the restaurant biz, Korn is back to the career he loves, in the space on Main Street he’s been before, cooking creative dishes like flaky short rib empanadas, innovative craft burgers, and entrees with flavors from all over the globe.

You were out of the restaurant business for a bit. What were you doing?
I actually went to work for Safeway and it was a 9 to 5 gig. It was the only time in my life I didn’t work in a restaurant, so it was kind of weird. It worked out well because my kids were really young at that time, so it was a blessing in disguise. I never wanted to leave the business per se, but I thought it was best for me to rent out Rick’s while I was working on the other restaurant, the Pond View, and when that didn’t work out, I had to do something else for a while. I was just able to take it back over.

How does your restaurant reflect today’s trends?
At the original Rick’s we had white linen tablecloths in the dining room and a lot of exotic foods like alligator on the menu. That went well, but now the atmosphere for restaurants has changed. People go out and they want the quality burger with the different toppings. It’s not uncommon now to see a duck breast on the menu at a small place like ours. It’s a similar idea to what we had before, but with a different atmosphere. Someone called it a “gastropub” and I hadn’t heard that term before but it’s a cool description. It’s healthier foods and a newer vibe in an old town and we’re still able to put out quality food.

The departure might be our extensive burger menu with all the crazy toppings. That’s just in everywhere now. And our sweet potato crusted salmon with Asian slaw is something that wasn’t on the menu back in the day because it’s kind of different. We can infuse the different flavors that are popular today.

Your general manager and bar manager Greg Rogers has stepped up the cocktail scene in your area.
Greg and I go way back. The first job I ever had was a place called Kozy Korner right here in Kingston and his mom worked there. So I knew him when he was 5, running around being a pain. Then he worked for us. The drink program that Greg has put together is just unbelievable. He’s coming up with new cocktails every day.

How are people reacting to the new Rick’s?
People are coming from afar and actually become regulars. We have a couple that comes up from Amesbury once a week. We’re seeing more of that. Another party of four or five comes once a week from Newburyport. Now we’re seeing a lot of people travel to come in.

We’re having a blast. We did a Super Bowl pre-game party and we did a brunch—it was our first brunch—and we were sold out. We just crushed it. Same with Valentine’s Day. It was the most fun night; it was just good food all night, and I thought, “Oh yeah, that’s why we do this.”

Rick's Food & Spirits
143 Main Street
Kingston, NH