Walter - Humble Beginnings
Rieker’s Prime Meats was founded by Walter and Ursula Rieker in 1970, but the story behind the business begins much earlier, in post-World War II Germany, as both Walter and Ursula were raised during and after the war in the small village of Neckarwestheim. Life in post-war Germany was not easy, and at the tender age of 13, Walter left home to be an apprentice butcher in a nearby town. He worked five days a week and had one day of schooling. After several years of hands-on training, he was awarded his “Gesellen Brief” (akin to a diploma) on October 10, 1955, just weeks before his 17th birthday. That document now hangs proudly in the store. Only months later, on February 6, 1956, Walter left his homeland and moved to America. While learning to speak English, securing his American citizenship, and saving to buy a home, Walter worked several meat-related jobs in Philadelphia (with a six-month stint in the National Guard) and prepared himself to become a self-employed butcher. He knew, though, that he could not do it alone.
Walter & Ursula - A New Life
In 1969, Walter returned to Germany, where he and Ursula were married. The couple returned to America, and in 1970 they both welcomed their daughter Caroline, and took over Walter’s uncle’s business at Rising Sun and Cheltenham Avenues. Two years later, in 1972, they moved the business to its current location in Fox Chase and began making their now-famous hand-made lunchoenmeats and sausages. After another two years, in 1974, their son Marcus was born. He would ultimately take over the business in 2004.
Marcus - The Next Generation
With every passing year, through the hard work and dedication of Ursula, Walter, and now Marcus and Caroline, the business has grown and flourished. The customer base continues to grow and the quality of Rieker’s products has been applauded several times in The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Philadelphia Daily News, as well as other local and German newspapers. Customers travel astounding distances for the sausages and luncheonmeats still made by hand on the premises, as well as for the personal service that “knowing your butcher” provides.
With Marcus now at the helm, there is the promise of further growth and continued service at Rieker’s for another generation. And as Marcus is now the proud father of his own children, the possibility exists for the availability of delicious Rieker’s meats for a long time to come.
Walter Albert Rieker 1938 - 2012
Our founder and figurehead, Walter Rieker, passed away on Thursday, May 17th, after suffering a stroke on Monday the 14th. Words cannot adequately describe how much he will be missed. We thank everyone who has offered condolences, thoughts and prayers for our family. Knowing how many people are mourning his passing, and how many lives he touched, has been a great comfort to us. Although the store will continue without him, it will never be the same. He was a great husband, a great father, a great salesman, and overall a great man. He will live forever in our hearts.