324 Water Street, 757-887-5269. (Now closed and demolished) Founded by Greek immigrants Nick and Mary Mathews in 1944 and expanded over the years, with a 50-year collection of paintings and statuary. I first discovered Nick's in the summer of 1974 when attending a reserve school at the Coast Guard Reserve Training Center at Yorktown. I had a couple more delicious dinners there in the summer of 1980 while attending another Coast Guard reserve school and another later in the 1980's while on vacation with my family in Williamsburg. The above photo was after a mighty fine seafood late lunch at Nick's while I was in the area to photograph an air show at Oceana Naval Air Station and I am very happy that I made the drive to have my last meal there and to get the photo.
Many notable people have dined here including John Wayne, Elizabeth Taylor, Tony Bennett, The Gatlin Brothers, Randy Travis, many U. S. Senators, a Prime Minister, governors from all 50 states, foreign heads of state, etc. More importantly, Nick and Mary provided the only refuge to countless U. S. Navy sailors and Minemen arriving by Greyhound at the Coleman Bridge station for training at the Navy Mine School a few miles away. Bill Fortner, editor of The Dashpot, a newsletter published by the Association of Minemen, wrote me to say that the winter wind coming off the York River had teeth a foot long and ate Navy Peacoats for a midnight snack. He says that countless young sailors stepped off the bus after midnight and saw only the light over the door of Nick's, which was more humble and ramshackle than the building in the photo. A knock at the door always brought a welcome greeting, coffee and a call to the base for transportation. Nick and Mary were very dear people to our Navy sailors and minemen and their passing was a terrible loss. The Association of Minemen website is located at http://minemen.org/ .
"Mr. Nick" passed away in 1983 while enroute to Mississippi for "Miss Mary" to christen the USS Yorktown (CG-48). "Miss Mary" passed away in September 1998. York County purchased Nick's in March 2002 from The Jamestown Educational Trust which inherited the Mathews estate. The Yorktown master plan includes the building of a new restaurant on the water and additional parking on the existing Nick's site. Nick's will be open until construction on the new building forces it's closure in late 2003. York County plans to include some of the Nick's statuary and paintings in the new restaurant and an appropriate memorial to the Mathews.