Kevin Muench drove 28 miles from his home in Marengo Friday morning to Barrington because he wanted to pay respects to family of Richard Rivera, owner and chef of Ambrosia Euro American Patisserie who died recently.
For about 20 years before he retired as a U.S. Postal Service carrier, Muench saw Rivera on his daily delivery route.
“He was not only a quality businessman and chef, but he was a personal friend,” he said. “I consider these people my family because of the way they treated me.”
Many residents throughout the Barrington area shared similar sentiments after hearing the news about the owner of Ambrosia Euro American Patisserie, a popular bakery that has been in business at the Foundry of Barrington for the past 23 years. Rivera, 57, died Aug. 6 of metastatic prostate cancer.
A memorial service will be planned shortly after Sept. 9, said his wife of 27 years, Deborah Rivera. She said her husband decided to deal with his cancer diagnosis privately.
Deborah Rivera was at the business Friday, the first day Ambrosia Euro American Patisserie opened following a temporary closing. Several people — friends, customers and deliverymen carrying boxes and supplies — stopped to give Deborah Rivera hugs and express their condolences, she said.
Ambrosia Euro American Patisserie is well known for daily selections of baked goods, pastries, confections and espresso drinks, according to its website. The business plans to stay open after the death of its owner and chef.
“We will stay open. When Richard designed this place, he had a vision to keep it friendly and engaging,” Deborah Rivera said. “Our product can be intimidating because you usually see them in fine hotels. To combat this, we wanted our shop to be an engaging community hub.”
On Wednesday, handmade signs from the business were posted on the front door to Ambrosia Euro American Patisserie, informing people of its temporary closing because of Richard Rivera’s death. It surprised Kyle Anderson, who visited the store Wednesday to buy his usual coffee.
An apprentice saddler at Barrington Saddlery, Anderson, a Crystal Lake resident, has been visiting the bakery since he was a young boy, he said. He visits about three or four times a week.
For his wedding last October, Anderson asked Richard Rivera to make his wedding cake from his grandmother’s recipe. The chef and business owner gladly agreed, Anderson said.
“We were both artisans, and he liked showing me his kitchen and what he was working on. I was totally shocked this morning,” Anderson said Wednesday.
Lake Barrington resident Sue Benning pulled up Wednesday and read the hand-written signs. She mouthed the words and stepped back.
“It just went through me. Everyone knew who the chef was,” Benning said. “Such a friendly place.”