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 and I had a couple of fantastic dinners there in my off time from school. 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 wife and daughter 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 great 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. But more important than serving dignitaries, 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 U. S. Navy Mine School a few miles away. Bill Fortner, editor of The Dashpot from 2001 to 2012, 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/ . Bill Fortner passed away on January 5, 2013 - Rest In Peace, Bill! A photo of Bill is at http://minemen.org/AOM-dashpot.htm .
"Mr. Nick" passed away in 1983 while enroute to Mississippi for "Miss Mary" to officially christen the USS Yorktown (CG-48) for the U. S. Navy. "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 was to include the building of a new restaurant on the water and additional parking on the existing Nick's site. Nick's was open until late 2003 and then it was flattened. York County plans to include some of the Nick's statuary and paintings in the new restaurant and an appropriate memorial to the Mathews. I have not heard any updates on what I have written except that a new restaurant was not built as of several years ago. If anyone can provide updates please do so in the comments.
Note: please read below as to why Nick's was flattened and where one of Nick's cooks is now working in Yorktown. Thank you.