Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Niko's

VANISHED

Niko's Mediterranean Grill on the Upper West Side has closed after 50 years. They added this note to their Yelp listing: "Sun 2/13 was our last day. Forced to sell lease. Will miss you all. Please support Big Nick's on Broadway."


New York Magazine

Thanks to blogger and JVNY reader Marty Wombacher for sending in these shots of the restaurant's goodbye sign, where Big Nick says the decision to sell the lease was "difficult and painful," but "it is time to cut back":



See what a final meal at Niko's looked like from the blog Stuff I Ate. And the owners' other Upper West Side restaurant, Big Nick's pizza and burger joint, remains open--go there.



As for what might come next to this corner, Marty offered a theory:

"When I was looking through the windows an old woman came up and asked if I lived on the block. I told her I did years ago and was surprised that this place was closed. She said she was too. Then I jokingly said, 'Well, you can look forward to another Starbucks on the block.' She spat out, 'They put a fucking Starbucks in there and I'll fucking firebomb the place!'"

18 comments:

Native NYer said...

This is really sad. Nikos is a neighborhood institution. And the food wasn't bad either! New York, shame on you for losing your soul.

James said...

I ate dinner at Niko's after my first full day in Manhattan in 1999. I remember talking to two men outside at the next table — probably my first significant interaction with New Yorkers. They had a little dog that scurried between the seats and under the tables. Amazingly I ran into the same guy (and his dog) on Broadway the next morning. More recently I ate there again before a Steely Dan concert at the Beacon. The way things are going I'd be happy to see a Starbucks open up (although there's already one across the street). If it were downtown it would become a natural wine bar or a gluten-free artisanal cupcake emporium.

Marty Wombacher said...

It would almost be worth it to see another Starbucks go in there to see if she'd come through with her promise. The operative word there is "almost!" Hate to see Niko's vanish, they had a great brunch there. At least there's still Big Nick's.

Melanie said...

I will miss Niko's.

Anonymous said...

Sorry to see it close but must correct the info. As a resident of the UWS since 1968, I can tell you with assurance that Niko's Mediterranean wasn't there until late 80s or early 90s. The writer of the post mistook Niko's for Big Nick's, the Burger Joint, that's been a bit further up the street for years. I remember when Niko's first opened. I was there the first week and I can tell you it wasn't fifty years ago!

Anonymous said...

I moved to the UWS in 1969 and Niko's was not there a that time. I've never eaten there and even in the early 70s there weren't a lot of restaurants in the neighborhood and i definitely would have gone there if it existed then.

Jeremiah Moss said...

thanks Anons, for the corrections. not sure why Nick says "50 years" on his sign. maybe it began as another place earlier on?

Anonymous said...

I think Big Nick's has been there 50 years.

Anonymous said...

The tone of this entry (and most others) is that the evil landlord is kicking them out. The sign indicates they are selling the lease which means their term hasn't ended. This does not mean the landlord did not offer them a new one. In fact the landlord may not even be directly involved in this transaction.

It's not unusual for these greek restaurants/diners to have very long leases, 20+ years. Most likely the terms and escalations of the lease were negotiated many years ago.

I suspect one of the hated chain stores made a very handsome offer to the restaurant to buy out their lease and they couldn't refuse. They're just playing the victim to keep a good rep.

Either way, such is life in a big, active and hopefully healthy city.

Anonymous said...

I think the burger place has been around for 50 years and the Mediterranean Restaurant for about 15 years.

Jeremiah Moss said...

er, who said anything about a landlord?

MagWildwood said...

Victim? I don't see anything smacking of "victim" in Nikos's letter to his customers. It talks about how bittersweet change is. What's wrong with that?

Golly, I'm going to miss this place!

LMundo said...

One more victim of the heartless assemblage of UWS landlords who profess to be children of God but who view the Almighty Dollar as their rule and guide in life. Those who charge rents such as $5-6K and up for a ramshackle apartment that has been compartmented into two small bedrooms with a tiny kitchen, etc. So many who know much better see this disgraceful situation but throw up their hands and say "what can you do?"

What do you do? As for me, I'm going to leave soon after living here with open eyes for several years. And when I go, I will lament Broadway and the restaurants and all that. But I will also remember places such as Niko's and I will tell everyone I know the rest of my life the truth about New York and the greedy people who really control the lives of the average but extraordinary people who live under their thumbs.

Anonymous said...

LMundo,

We live in a free market moderated by supply and demand. If you owned property youwould attmept to maximize your profits just as everyone else does. In addition, Nick has not closed the store due to high rent. If you bothered to read the sign, you would see that he indicated that he sold the lease. That means that he was offered a substantial sum of $ to close the store and let someone else take over the space. So, in reality, nick forsake his workers and customers in order to make out by selling the lease. Your conspiratorial claims regarding evil "children of god" are ridiculous and belie your true Prejudices.

Anonymous said...

Niko's was a good, reliable place to get Greek food. Many years ago I saw Renee Taylor eating there after watching her in a performance at the Cazale Theater nearby. However, the last time I went, a year ago, the food and service had gone slightly downhill. Still sad to see it go. A true NY place.

Anonymous said...

Niko's was a holdover from the Upper West Side as it used to be - unpretentious and neighborly. The food was great, but my favorite thing was the seasonal decoration, which seemed to begin with New Year's and proceed throughout the year . . . Valentine's Day, St. Patrick's Day, Easter . . . without anything ever being taken down. Was a go-to treat for me and friends and family, and it will be missed.

Brendan said...

I'm months late on this but I just want to register how sad this makes me.

When I came to New York for the first time as a tourist with my family as a teenager, we stayed at the Milburn hotel on W. 76th and ate one night at Niko's. The first night I moved here to go to college, before classes started, I ate there again. I went back many times in the following years (though more often to Big Nick's for late night greasy food and beer after availing myself of student tickets at Lincoln Center or Lincoln Plaza cinemas).

It makes me sad not just because it had good food and atmosphere at reasonable prices, but because the Upper West Side, as square as it already may have become, was the first NYC neighborhood I knew and it still retained the slightly shabby, intellectual, predominantly old Jewish though still diverse character that initially defined the city for me and that I fell in love with. And unlike the East Village, which I never really knew until it was well on the way to being frat party central, I have seen it first hand lose a lot of its character to chain stores and cutesy boutiques and luxury high rises and all that garbage. Obviously a lot of this was underway when I came here in 2003 and I was just seeing it through rose-colored glasses, so part of this is my own disillusionment, but there has definitely been a big change.

This comment has no point really, just wanted to post my tribute to Nico's. At least we still have Big Nick's.

Anonymous said...

"One-man operation"... that nicely summarizes Nick's attitude towards his employees.