Richie’s Says So Long to Soda

The city of Philadelphia is now two months into the beverage tax, a 1.5-cents-per-ounce tax on the distribution of sweetened beverages as well as syrups and concentrates used to make sweetened beverages.

The tax influenced a popular Temple business, Richie’s Deli and Pizza, to take sugary beverages off the menu all together.

Richie’s has been in the area for three generations. Richie Juniors acquired the business from his father 17 years ago. Juniors is also a Temple alum, and he says his understanding of student financial struggles played a part in his decision to stop selling soda and other taxed beverages.

“It makes it too hard for everybody. For me to implement it, why should I charge someone $5, $6 for a soda?” Juniors said.

Juniors says the tax on sugary drinks forces him to charge too much for soda in order for him to make a profit. His mother Lilly runs a nearby food truck, Richie’s Lunch Box, and she agreed that complying with the tax was too much of a hassle.

“I support Richie,” Lilly said. She admitted she doesn’t mind selling just water and juice.

“It’s healthier,” she said.

The health risks of sugary beverages were a part of the city’s campaign in support of the tax. Although business owners and beverage distributers oppose the tax, it is making money.

Last week the city announced that it collected $5.7 million in the first month of January. That amount is double what they anticipated.

“That means people are complying with the law. And the world didn’t come to an end. It’s amazing,” Mayor Kenny said.

The revenue collected was still shy of their $7 million monthly goal. The money is supposed to go to city pre-k programs as well as parks and recreation.

Stay connected with Temple Update for more on where the money collected from the beverage tax is going.

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