PHOTOS BY CARRIE ALLEN, LLC
There’s a treasure tucked away in downtown Mooresville that not only serves excellent coffee, but also offers a generous helping of the very best brand of hospitality.
Richard’s Coffee Shop is also home to a Living Military Museum honoring America’s veterans, founded in 1995 by local Army veteran Richard Warren, who dubbed the shop “Pat’s” at the time, in honor of his wife. When Richard – a U.S. Army Vietnam combat pilot who flew a Huey attack helicopter, or “gunship,” with the callsign “Mustang 53” – passed away in 2009, the coffee shop closed temporarily, then reopened, proudly bearing Richard’s name.
When you visit Richard’s Coffee Shop and explore the museum, you’re sure to become acquainted with at least one or two veterans who regularly stop by for conversation and camaraderie. That’s why it’s referred to as a “living” museum, as history is vividly brought to life every day with stories told from days gone by. It’s a Mooresville stop you’ll also want to share with children and teens, passing along a glimpse of history to a new generation.
Lt. Colonel John Hedley is president of the non-profit organization behind the Living Military Museum, which displays photographs, unit plaques, uniforms, documents, and other keepsakes families have proudly donated for display and reminiscing.
“We do believe the museum adds a valuable point of interest in the community,” says John. “We work hard to be an active part of what happens downtown, participating in community events whenever possible.”
He also adds that, when asked what they miss most about their active-duty time, most vets say it’s the people – the folks who share their sense of mission.
“We fill a need for veterans in the local area by providing them a place where they can connect with other vets,” he explains. “We have no membership fees or dues, access is free, and we provide that opportunity to reconnect and feel a sense of belonging.”
The group is also working to become even more welcoming to the public, as many people feel the coffee shop is only a gathering place for veterans. Nothing could be further from the truth!
“We all served the great people of this country, protecting their freedoms and independence, and we wouldn’t have done that without a love of our countrymen,” says John. “We encourage everyone to visit us, to see our displays of American history, and to talk with our veterans about their service. Most are proud to talk about their days in uniform, with stories of where they served and what they did.”
Carve out some time soon to visit with your family, and you’ll leave with a greater sense of appreciation for all those who have served. Anyone can donate items to Welcome Home Veterans, and volunteers are happy to look at all prospective donations, treating and displaying them respectfully. For more information or to donate to this 501 (c)(3) visit welcomevets.com and follow Richard’s Coffee Shop on Facebook for news on events and special occasions. The Living Military Museum at Richard’s Coffee Shop is located at 165 N. Main Street, Mooresville, NC 28115, (704) 663-0488. Hours are Monday through Saturday 8:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. Every Thursday morning there is free coffee for veterans, and a music jam every Saturday for those who want to play music or simply socialize!