Big Nick’s Burger and Pizza Joints had been a mainstay go to eatery on the Upper West Side since 1962 until yesterday.
My college, the New York Institute of Technology was on Broadway and 61st Street. On a walk one day I saw Big Nick’s and it was love at first bite. Open 24 hours a day, big burgers cooked fresh on a flame grill in the window, so many kinds of pizza you thought you went to pizza heaven and a 24 page menu if you wanted something different Nick’s offered it all.
Nicks offered you everything under the sun and did it well. It was a regular joint in the jointiest way: from the waitresses that were there for years (that Asian waitress served me countless times for years) to the same counterman grilling the burgers, and the 24/7 it served food
Big Nick’s was owned by Nick Imirzades. Many times i go in for a burger at any time of the day and there he’d be, big imposing, until smiled and welcomed me in.
When you walked into Nicks Burger or the adjoining Pizza Joint, you had no empty wall space.
If the 24 page menu was not enough, every inch of walls at Big Nick’s was covered in hand written specials from the Ostrich burger to the garlic soup. Greek specialties like moussaka or spinach pie, or diner faves like meatloaf or the blue plate specials they offered for awhile.
Nicks decor was overcrowded diner at it’s best. If you ate in the original part of Nick, the Burger Joint, you had small cramped wood booths with the hanger for your coat attached at the end. The walls of the Burger Joint was covered by 8 x 10 signed head shots that ranged from Robert Ryan, one of my favorite actors to the Allman Brothers. Another recently deceased New York landmark, Manny’s Music would have given Nick’s a run for it’s for most glossies on the wall. Nick’s had the feel of an old coffer shop and it really was.
Big Nick’s Burger and Pizza Joints were part of New York. St Marks Cinema, Manny’s Music, Bleeker Bobs, Ray’s Pizza, CBGB’s, The Biograph, these are just a few of the ghosts of my New York.
Big Nicks is a big loss for me and many New Yorker’s. To me, it was the best burger I found in New York for a long time. One a 25 hour trip to New York for a Lou Reed concert, my only dinner was sitting at the counter eating a cheeseburger at Nick’s. That is how much I loved the burger at Nick’s.
One night my best friend Chris and I had a burger off. It began at the Parker Meridien “Burger Joint” for dinner and ended at 4am at Big Nick;s Burger Joint. Battle of the burger years ago….
I always said the Food Network needed to do a show about Nick’s. Such a huge menu in a little space. On my walks to the bathroom, I envisioned being in a submarine, where you walk on your stored food in the passageways until they needed it.
Where did they keep all that food? Guess I will never know.
Nicks is where my kids choose to eat on every back and it became a must go for them. The pictures of Big Nick’s are from my son Zack Kramer on his last visit.
Family friendly, reasonable prices, good food, Nick’ offered something that is disappearing due to my favorite disease New York is suffering from, gentrification.
Nick says he is trying to reopen again somewhere in the Upper West Side, but if that happens it wont be the same.
Big Nick’s another piece of New York now just a memory.