Growing up in Fall River during the late 50’s and early 60s, I promised myself that there were certain pleasures that I would never give up, even when I got big (became an adult). All of these pleasures had to do with eating. It seemed that adults had forgotten the pleasures of certain edibles; I didn’t want to succumb to that forgetfulness.
I was seven or eight years old when I compiled these 7 promises:
1. I will eat a Mallo cup every day of my life.
2. I will always get my chocolate ice cream at Bottomley’s on Stafford Road.
3. I will always get vanilla Cokes from the fountain at Park Drug on South Main Street.
4. I will always get chocolate milkshakes (not frappes) from the fountain at Lambert’s Drug Store, also on South Main Street.
5. I will always drink coffee milk.
6. I will always put vinegar on my French fries.
7. I will always, whenever I have an extra 15 cents, save that 15 cents for a Nick’s Coney Island hot dog.
When I think of Fall River cuisine, I think of Coney Dogs. Fall River is known for its fine Portuguese restaurants – arguably the best on this side of the Atlantic. Emeril Lagasse has brought some fame to the wax paper wrapped Fall River style chow mein sandwich, but Fall River’s most venerable restaurant, hands down, is Nick’s Original Coney Island Hot Dogs.
This tiny storefront hot dog joint at 534 South Main Street has graced the city since 1920. Ninety plus years for a restaurant is virtually unheard of.
I did grow-up, kind of, and I have spent most of my life in the food service distribution business. I might have been handicapped in this business because somewhere down deep in my psyche is the belief that old Nick’s, with their one menu item, with or without onions, one item that tasted good and was cheap, somewhere down deep I believe this is the ideal restaurant.
This is the prototype. What more could you ask for from a restaurant? It tasted good and was cheap? And these Coneys were like drugs – they were addictive.
Read the entire article in June's issue of the South Coast Insider