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April 17, 2024

Ricks Express

More than just a convenience store 

By Mark H. Stowers, The Bolivar Bullet

Convenience and great flavors go hand in hand at Rick’s Express, which has eight locations spread across the Delta. With all the items one may need in a hurry and all the great food that fills any craving, Rick’s Express opens early and closes late. Rickey Jones Jr. helps his father run the eight locations. 

The Cleveland location, on Hwy. 61, opened in 2021. They offer breakfast, dinner and supper. From homemade biscuits, chicken on a stick and plate lunches that any Delta grandmother would approve of, Rick’s Express satisfies hunger with its comfort food selection. Jones Jr. has worked for his father at Rick’s Express since he was 10 years old doing “whatever was needed and no one else would do” but when it was time for college, the Hollandale native changed his business major at Ole Miss to Exercise Science with an eye on becoming a physical therapist. 

“I graduated in 2001 and I was ignorant to the world and thought I’d have job after job after job lined up waiting for me,” said Jones. “My dad called and asked, ‘so, tell me your plan, son.’”

He didn’t have a job lined up, but thought he would move to where his girlfriend/now wife found a job. His father told him he could come home and help manage the stores until he decided what  he was going to do for a living.  Now, 23 years later, Ricky Jr. is still working his father. 

“I said ok and moved back to Greenville to manage those stores in 2001, then in May of 2002 I got married,” he said. 

The eight Rick’s Express Stores are located in Hollandale, Swiftwater, three in Greenville, Lake Village, Arkansas, Shaw and Cleveland.

“Each day I go where the problem is on that particular day,”  said Jones. “I’m the problem solver. I have a manager in every store and a supervisor over them and they call me to let me know what’s not working with a gas pump or cooler or employee issues – whatever it is. When you have as many employees, coolers and gas pumps, deep fryers and ovens that we have, nothing is always working 100 %.”

Each store is basically the same, but with each new location, Jones and his staff create a spot from what they learned in all the previous stores.

“As we have grown, we have figured out what we like and don’t like, but they’re all really similar,” he said. “Each one has its own personality based on its geographical location.”

The recipes are all in-house creations from what worked and tasted best. 

“You tailor it to what each store likes and each situation in each small town. We came up with our own breading for frying chicken,” he said. “We then had our distributor, US Foods, package it us. This is just for our stores to use.”

Jones gives the chefs a bit of free reign as they cook the flavors they distribute each week.

“Here’s how we want you to do it and here’s the recipe and each cook puts their own touch on it,” he said. “Chicken tenders, potato logs and chicken on a stick have been our best sellers. We do sell fried chicken as well.”

Breakfast starts at 5:00 a.m., then lunch is offered starting around 10:00 a.m. followed by dinner items at 5:00 p.m. until closing.  

“We have staples each day like mashed potatoes and green beans and cooks will rotate in macaroni and cheese, squash casserole, black eyed peas, pinto beans – good ol’ home cooked Delta food,” said Jones.

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