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Sunbird Photos by Don Boyd | all galleries >> Buildings Stock Photos Gallery > The famous Nick's Seafood Pavilion in Yorktown, Virginia with numerous poignant comments below the photo's description
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The famous Nicks Seafood Pavilion in Yorktown, Virginia with numerous poignant comments below the photos description
5-SEP-2003 Sunbird Photos by Don Boyd

The famous Nick's Seafood Pavilion in Yorktown, Virginia with numerous poignant comments below the photo's description

Yorktown, Virginia


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.

FujiFilm FinePix S2 Pro ,Nikon 80-200mm f2.8 AF-D ED, Stock Photo #6690

other sizes: small medium original
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Guest 17-Jul-2014 23:53
So sorry to hear Nick's is gone. Went there several times as a kid when we were stationed at Langley in 1966/67. My parents went there for their 17th anniversary and again in 1994 for their 45th with my family. Glad to hear the legacy continues at Duke of Gloucester diner.
Guest 03-Apr-2014 18:23
Went to Nick's for our first anniversary in 1974. Was at Georgetown Dental School then, which is now gone. We are in Williamsburg for our 41st and were hoping Nick's was still around. Our experience there was delightful and will be a fond memory. T. Brady
D. Duna 18-Feb-2014 23:41
I took my prom date to Nick's back in 1982. I was nervous and wound up ordering two main entrees, along with her meal. We laughed when they brought out all the food to our table. Everything was so good. What a magical night, that night.
Guest 23-Jan-2013 02:58
My first and sadly only experience at Nick's was in 1980, while I was attending the Williamsburg Seminar for Historic Administration. There were 18 of us in the course and we were doing site visits of historic sites around the region. Nick "comped" the entire class to a sumptuous and delicious meal. It was my first ever encounter with soft shelled crab and it was delicious. Sad to see that it is no more. Guest from Texas
John Rogers 11-Jun-2012 21:43
I was an officer on the USS Yorktown (CG-48) from 1987 to 1989. Whenever the ship when up to the Naval Weapons Station to either offload or onload, the officers of the wardroom would go see Miss Mary at the restaurant and she would always feed us and never make us pay. I never got to meet Mr. Nick because he had passed before I was attached to the Yorktown, but Miss Mary made sure she made us all feel like family whenever we came up river. What a treasure she was. And her passing and the restaurants end make me so very, very sad.
Sunbird Photos by Don Boyd10-Jun-2012 15:50
Guest from 14-FEB-2012: thank you for telling us the reason why the restaurant was leveled.

Bob (25-MAY-2012): that was a great story and I thank you for sharing it with us.

And to everyone else who has posted: thank you for sharing your memories of Nick's. It was a treasure and all of us were fortunate to have dined there over the years.

Don
Bob 25-May-2012 16:34
I took my parents to the River Room Restaurant at the Duke of York Motel, where chef Jimmy at 72 is still cooking. We all had lobster dien bien, (hint, share it between two people, we didn't and took home a lot) It was almost as good as I remembered. I think it missed the ambiance of the old Nick's. I did want to share one Nick's memory with you. I think the good food made everyone a little bit nicer while there. In the summer of 1977, me and my college friends worked at Bush Gardens Williamsburg as German Dancers in the Festhaus. One evening we decided to splurge and go to Nick's. We really could not afford it, but we were young and not so fiscally responsible. While there at a neighboring table, a group of three 50-ish people started to talk to us. They recognized us from Busch and one of our group had picked one of their wife's to dance in the audience participation part of the show. The were cruising in a yacht on the intercostal waterway to FL and they tried to recruit one of our guys to come and be their cabin boy (for real!). Anyway, they left, and when we were finished, the waiter asked if we wanted desert, we declined, and he said, "You might as well, the folks sitting next to you said to put your bill on their credit card and make sure they order desert!" I never forgot that act of random kindness. It really meant so much to me, that I have tried to pay it back to other young people at restaurants many times. This all happened at Nick's.
Guest 14-Feb-2012 17:04
I grew up in and still live in Hampton. My father was a realtor and did some business with Nick and Miss Mary in the early 70's. From that time on, we were family. I have many, many memories of going to Nick's. One was during the summer of 1975. We had an exchange student from Finland. While eating, she commented that she had always dreamed of eating in a restaurant like Nick's and walking out without paying the bill. Lo and behold, when we went up to pay Mr. Nick tore up the check. Anne remembered that for years. The last time we ate there we took our 2 sons up to welcome in the year 2000. Those champagne glasses have a place of honor in our china cabinet now. For all that have commented, sadly it was Hurricane Irene that marked the end of the restaurant. It caused so much water damage that it had to be leveled.
Guest 13-Feb-2012 20:06
While stationed at the Naval Weapons Station at Yorktown in 1971-1972, I worked some evenings at Nicks in the scullery. Miss Mary always hired military guys to work the scullery and I believe the cooks were also military from the area. At the end of the day we would gather round and have a beer or maybe a dish of ice cream. The hardest part of the job was taking those heavy trash cans out back to the dumpster. I think every cat in Yorktown spent their nights around that dumpster. Afterwards we might go just down the street to the Cannonball for a beer. But I remember how nice Miss Mary was as she made the salads and worked the cash register and Mr. Nick would walk around the restaurant making sure everyone was happy with every thing. It is a shame the place is gone now. But thank you for this site to keep the memories going. Jim Hecker
Wayne R 14-Jan-2012 03:44
I was also attending a Coast Guard Reserve School there in 1971 and we had our graduation celebration at Nick's. What a great place! Sorry to see it gone. I miss Yorktown and the people that live there.
John 25-Oct-2011 01:44
I live in Georgia. I first went to Nick's while at Procurement School at Ft Lee in 1972 as part of a Saturday excursion to Williamsburg. I probably went back 10-15 times over the next 30 years, whenever I was anywhere near Newport News. Absolutely one of my favorite restaurants. I was extremely disappointed when I went back there a couple of years ago and found a parking lot at the location.
Jack Combs 11-Jun-2011 05:44
Nick’s… so many sweet memories. In June 1969 I proposed to Susan Fleming (Tudie). I had planned the evening very carefully with the dinner at Nick’s. I popped the question in the parking lot before going in. She said Yes. When we entered Nick’s the excitement was spilling over. Nick and his wife caught on quickly and congratulated us. Through the years we told the story in glowing detail many times. I was hoping to go down and briefly rethink those memories, but Nick’s is gone. Cancer took Tudie away in January. Now the specific memories of Nick’s accent, the magnificent food, the bright atmosphere, the staff’s smiles and laughter remain and just live on. Yes, everyone that went to Nick's has great memories...
Mark Price 06-May-2011 17:00
Very disappointed to see Nicks gone. My parents would eat their anniversary dinners there very often, however, for obvious reasons, I was never allowed to go. As an adult, after moving away, I returned with my wife and young son and enjoyed my first dinner at Nicks. It was like taking a step back in time, which I enjoyed very much. I looked around and wondered where my parents might have been seated as a young couple. I'm planning a return trip again to the area and was looking forward to taking my, much older, son there for another dinner and some family history, and I'm so disappointed to hear it's gone. Sometimes "progress" takes a step backwards, as in this case.
Sunbird Photos by Don Boyd03-Apr-2011 15:51
Guest, thank you for posting that information. The website for the hotel is at:
http://www.dukeofyorkmotel.com/directions.html in case folks want to check it out.

Don
Guest 26-Mar-2011 20:04
You can still enjoy the special dishes from Nick's Seafood Pavilion. Jimmy, the manager and head chef for Miss Mary is preparing some of our favorites just a short walk from the old site. It's a small
restaurant but worth the trip if you are craving Lobster Dien Bien, Seafood Shish Kabob, their famous salads, or coconut pie. The restaurant, Duke of York Cafe is part of the Duke of Gloucester Hotel. During the winter season they are only open for dinner on the weekends. Also Jimmy only cooks for the dinner crowd. To see a menu go to the Duke of Gloucester Hotel site where you will recognize many of the dishes that were served at Nick's Seafood Pavilion.
H. Fraser Clayton 21-Mar-2011 17:45
My father would as then Director of Training for the CIA would go visit Camp Peary, Virginia from time to time. Sometimes he would take us to Nick's Seafood after visiting Colonial Williamsburg or Jamestown or Yorktown, etc. for that day. I loved the place. When I went to volunteer for a week during the 400th anniversary of Jamestown in 2007 I was floored to find a parking deck at that site. I felt very bad that the restuarant was not left alone.
Sunbird Photos by Don Boyd27-Oct-2010 05:54
Sandy, thank you for posting your memories and your comments. I am dismayed also that the town and county have not done more with a memorial to the Matthews.

Don
Sandy Carter Brown 26-Oct-2010 03:44
Nick's Seafood Pavilion has been surely missed. My Mom was a waitress there and I had dinner in the back of the kitchen numerous times. I would travel two hours just to get a salad and Lobster Din Bien after I moved away. After all the Matthews did for the county, I am disappointed that more was not done in their memory. They left everything when they died and I think there should have been some kind of memorial on that spot where Nick's was. I have a lot of wonderful memories of the restaurant and the people that worked there. No matter how long between visits, Mrs. Mary would always remember me and ask, "How is your Mamma?, Tell her to bring in some of her good money" and she would laugh and give me her special candy from behind the counter. I miss Ms. Mary and the restaurant. God Speed....
Guest 01-Sep-2010 14:34
Does anyone have any of the recipes served at Nicks. Would love to have the Coconut Pie recipe.
Thanks,
Betty Harrison
CATHERINE 31-Jul-2010 23:14
I was looking to see if Nicks was still around, and I was disappointed to find out it was gone. I spent my summers during my teenage years over 30 years ago in Norfolk and the whole pennisula area. I grew up, moved away, and now that I was stationed back in the pennisula I wanted to share a part of my youth with my family. My Aunt and Uncle and I went there every Friday night. I think I had almost everything on that menu. It is truely sad that it is gone. Mr. Nick was a very nice man. I even took picture of me by some of those statues. Happy memories I will always cherish. I place like no other....
Kate Roedel 08-Jul-2010 23:22


My Husband and I enjoyed dinners at Nick's Seafoood Pavillion many times while stationed at Ft. Eustis in Newport News from 1974-1976. Lobster Din Bien was our all-time favorite!
We are saddened to know it is no longer there........
Guest 29-Jan-2010 20:02
God how I miss Nick's "Lobster Dien Bien". We lived in Hampton in 1966 and drove therer often for this wonderful dish. Our last trip there Nicks was no more. How disappointing. So glad it may reopen one day. My love of this wonderful dish drove me to concoct my own version of it many moons ago. Mine ain't bad.....but it's not Nick's.
phil 27-Oct-2009 23:54
Just made reservations for a winter visit to Williamsburg with my wife.(she has never been).Told her we needed to go to Nick's.I used to live in Newport News many years ago.I'm sorry she will miss the great food I had there as a teenager
Mahlon Hutchison 21-Sep-2009 20:30
Wow! I can't believe that Nick's is no longer. Back in the 60's my folks and I would visit Williamsburg and we would stay at the Yorktown Inn I belived it was called. Next door was Nick's and what a great place it was. In the 70's I was an archaeologist working on the the Yorktown Battlefield. My girl friend and I ate there many times. I would hope that the new restuarant does still display all the statues and such, what a place!
Al Kimel 18-Sep-2009 03:57
I'm so sorry to learn that Nick's is no more. My folks took me to Nick's when I was a teenager, maybe 40-42 years ago. I remember being presented with an incredible array of food--all of it delicious. Many years later I took my wife and children to Nick's. I was not disappointed, though the interior looked old and in need of refurbishment. I am saddened to learn that Nick's Seafood Pavilion is no more.
Denny 30-Jul-2009 13:49
I went to C.G. OCS for 3 months at the old Navy Mine Warfare base in Yorktown in Aug 1959. I later came back many times for reserve training. I early on introduced myself to the Mathews as a son of Greek parents and fellow retaurateurs. From then on, I was treated as a menber of the family. The food was outstanding exceded only by their warmth and hospitality.
Guest 16-Jul-2009 23:14
I ate there several times over the years when visiting Fort Eustis, VA. Food was wonderful. My favorite dish was "Lobster Dien Bien Nick" which was chunks of lobster meat in a rice concoction. Amazing how much of our best stuff and fondest memories comes from the immigrants to this nation.
Mike Cather
Robert Hawkins 08-Jul-2009 12:18
Robert Hawkins -Naperville Illinois
I grew up in Richmond and loved to drive to Nicks for seafood, great pie and to look at the water. I also visited during my tour in the Navy and was always treated with the greatest service and enjoyed every trip to Nick,s. As I was planning a trip back to my home town, I thought of Nick's as a potential stop, I am very sorry to see it gone, however the memories live on.
Russ McCullough 04-Jun-2009 05:27
Thanks for the history. I grew up in Hampton and left in 1969. In 1980 we went back for a vacation and, of course, HAD to go to Nicks! Awesome food! We talked to Miss Mary for a moment while she explained why the salad was still only $0.50! They just wanted to keep part of what was the best seafood value in all of Virginia. Too bad the place is gone. We do ourselves great disfavor by destroying the places where such good memories was made.
John Nutter 26-Feb-2009 21:25
Nick's had the best pie in the world! The chocolate creme was a slice of heaven, as was the coconut creme. My family first came to Nick's in 1961, when I was six years old, and though we live in Michigan, rarely allowed a summer to pass without stopping at this wonderful place during our frequent visits to Virginia. I am grateful I was able to take my son there one time before it closed.
What memories!
Robert Cooper 13-Feb-2009 17:36
We had the best dinner ever at Nick's in 1986 while staying near Yorktown for the Statue of Liberty Centennial. My wife and I had come to see all the tall ships berthed at the Waterside Pier before they went up the coast. Nick's was the premiere place to eat. Thanks for the picture. Sad to know its gone.
Shannon Holman 15-Jun-2008 04:40
I was devastated to hear that Nick's not only closed, but was "DEMOLISHED"! I find this unbelievable. Nick's was like visiting a museum! I would love to know if there are any pictures from the inside. I will never forget the tile mosaic floor of the winds greeting you as you walked in. Does anyone know if this was preserved anywhere? Also, is there a site with any of the recipes? One of my fondest memories growing up, was taking a diversional trip to Nick's after leaving the beach or Williamsburg, just to eat their iceburg salad and be served by wait staff in fancy uniform! This was a true family tradition! Nick's was a time capsule that should have been left standing!
Jim Sadler 06-Apr-2008 22:41
Jim Sadler
I also had the distinguished honor to be a cook at Nick's, Pavilion in the 70's. I have to say it was one of the most memorable times of my life. I was onboard the USS Nathaniel Green, an SSBN in overhaul at NNSBDCo. I am now retired in Spokane WA and still cook Seafood for friends and family and still brag about Nick's when people ask me where I learned to cook. I loved Mr. Nick and Miss Mary and the Chef.
Harry Poarch 25-Nov-2007 03:45
Visiting Yorktown area on November 25, 2007. Was looking forward to a great dinner at Nick's. A real disappointment to learn it is no longer there. I was stationed at Fort Eustis several times over the past 40 years. Nick's was always our favorite place. It surely is missed by all who had the opportunity to dine there.
Jim Fredrickson 03-Nov-2007 04:05
Was extremely pleased tosee this photo, as a Navy Corpsman stationed at Yorktown Naval Weapons Station in the Mid 70"s I had the pleasure of cooking at Nick"s, As it turned out the 3 years experience I recieved ther launched me on a 30 year carreer as an award winning chef. As for Nick and Miss mary they were by far the most generous people towards the American Service man whom ever came into contact with them, I have truely missed them but they were always in my thoughts even thought we were a county apart as the Pacific coast ismy home.
Mark Currier 23-Oct-2007 18:22
Nick's was my favorite restaurant. I was very upset to see it go. Nick and Mary and the restaurant will be greatly missed.
Sunbird Photos by Don Boyd06-Dec-2005 08:36
Thanks for your comments, Mike. It's sad indeed and I'm lucky I got back there in time for one more great meal I'll always remember.
Guest 05-Dec-2005 20:48
Thanks for capturing and preserving a part of my past. I've been out West for the last 25 years and was greatly disheartened to see the landmark gone on a recent visit to Newport News, VA. You filled in the gaps and brought back good memories. Thank you. Mike Foretich