25-year-old Richard Skormam, a self-professed eater-reader, wanted a place that encouraged people to enjoy two of his favorite pastimes, eating and reading. In 1977 there wasn’t an establishment that could cater to both of those needs so Poor Richard’s Read and Feed opened on June 1, 1977. The restaurant was instantly popular. Skorman wanted to encourage people to read and eat healthy, satisfying meals. He was also able to host an impressive cast of literary figures including Allen Ginsburg, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, and Diane di Prima.
In 1982 Skorman became disillusioned with restaurant ownership and discussed selling the business to his employees. That deal fell through and in the fall of that same year someone vandalized the restaurant and set it on fire, causing $60,000 worth of damage. After the remodeling a reinvigorated Skorman incorporated cinema into the business. A cinephile, Skorman showed classic and independent films, eventually writing a book on cinema.
While writing his book Skorman became interested in environmentalism and in 1990 announced his intention to hold the world’s first Environmental Film Festival in Colorado Springs. This would be the first of many environmentally focused endeavors that he would pursue, including acting as a spokesperson for the Colorado Springs Utilities Green Power program in the mid 1990’s.
Skorman turned to politics and was elected to the Colorado Springs City Council in 1999. Poor Richard’s became a sight of Skorman’s political activism, hosting events for gay rights groups and environmental causes. Although Skorman wanted to run a politically conscious business he never wanted to alienate customers and encouraged people from all persuasions to patronize his store, and he made sure he had reading material to appeal to all interests. Richard Skorman would remain a staple of Colorado Springs politics serving as City Councilmember from 1999-2006, Vice Mayor from 2003-2005, and in 2017 became a Councilmember for District 3 and currently serves as City Council President.
Poor Richard’s thrived downtown not just as a business but as a brand. Skorman, along with his wife Patricia Seator, are now co-owners of 4 businesses in the 300 block of North Tejon Street. Poor Richard’s Restaurant, Little Richard’s Toy Store, Rico’s Café and Wine Bar, and Poor Richard’s Books and Gifts stand side by side on the northern end of the Downtown shopping district and they continue to provide a friendly place of patronage for eater-readers.
Generously Submitted by Patrick Lee, CSPM Museum Technician