Last month a true New York institution closed its doors for the last time.
Big Nick’s Burger Joint and Pizza Joint were the kind of old-school eatery to whom the phrase “greasy spoon” barely begins to apply. There was a palpable griminess to the tables, benches, and countertops. The encyclopedic menus bore the stains of countless thousands of diners past. Grumpy waitresses would take your order, sometimes snorting with disdain if they disapproved of your choices. Not long afterward, you’d be presented with one of the finest burgers in the five boroughs, or perhaps a perfect pizza of the old-school Neapolitan-American variety.
The best thing about Nick’s was it was open 24 hours a day. If the urge for solid food hit you after a night of ferocious drinking, you could go in there at 4:30AM and get a meal as soul-satisfying as any to be had in town. A pizza, a burger, a grilled-cheese sandwich, a gyro, or an omelette. All at the least tasty, at the most sublime.
A rent hike has forced their closure after 50 years of serving drunks, insomniacs, and plain old lovers of good cheap food. Rumor has it that they may be relocating uptown. Until that day, I thank Nick for the great food and the memories.
Shawn has more reminiscences.