Nick's Tavern and Deli
Nick's Tavern and Deli is one of the oldest bars in downtown Clemson, and opened its doors February 26, 1976, operated by Nick Vatakis and Milton Antonakos, members of Anderson, South Carolina's Greek community. It took over the space previously operated as Pat Belew's Gold Nugget.
Nick and Milton had different management styles. Stockily built Nick would sit contentedly in the back corner of the bar wearing a white apron, cigar clamped in his teeth, and placidly survey the potential mayhem until the last moment, whereas Milton, big-framed with salt and pepper hair and moustache and glasses, would call down any nonsense immediately. "GET DOWN off that table!" he would command. "WHAT do you think this IS?" Nick, however, was the bartender you could pour your soul out to.
Considered the "liberal arts bar" by students and faculty in and out of liberal arts, Nick's is not your average downtown Clemson bar. More of a pub, actually. Excellent selection of beer (15 on tap and even more bottled), wine, cigars, and food. Nick's, like its neighbor Sloan Street Tap-Room, does not sell any liquor drinks. If you're brave/cheap enough, you can get a can of Schlitz Beer for $1. Try their spinach dip with toasted pita bread. The fried mushrooms are a traditional munch. Atmosphere is very relaxed. Seldom will you find shit-faced drunkards - this is a place to have a beer, some food, and good times, not a place to get hammered.
Long-time favorite pinball machine is William's Bride of Pinbot, but the left flipper is about worn out.
The current owners/managers are Esther Revis-Wagner and her husband Ken. They bought Nick's in 1985 when Nick Vatakis' health was failing. A transfer-of-deed party was held and all attending patrons were invited to sign the back of the document as witnesses.
Nick's celebrated it 30th anniversary February 24-25, 2006 and former patrons and staff returned for the birthday weekend festivities. Old photos, as well as copious door prizes, were in evidence! Milton and Betty Antonakos greeted celebrants on Friday night and many of us kissed the ring! Milt couldn't make it on Saturday night - he had to babysit one of his grandchildren. The most distant returnee flew from Schenectady, New York, and during the Saturday night's festivities, a former Clemson track star whose ACC trophy is displayed in the bar, called from Denmark and the crowd chanted "Hans!" three times for him.
- All employees asking to be excused because of serious illness or death in the family, please notify the office before 11 a.m. on the day of the game.
- If you're drinking to forget, please pay in advance.
- The original Pat Belew's Gold Nugget sign is on the reverse of the current Nick's sign. Those thrifty Greeks just turned it around and attached the Nick's lettering!
- The womens' loo has a beautiful mural titled "Daddy-O" on the wall, painted by Laurie Brennan (Class of 1998) "in loving memory of [her] father, Edward Patrick Brennan." Beer golf will be banned from Nick's after a certain unnamed blonde sorority vandalizes the art during a "golfing" round. The university takes action and the mural is repaired at sorority expense.
- In August 1974, ClemsonWiki contributor Mark Sublette's mother said to him over roast beef sandwiches at Pat Belew's Gold Nugget for lunch during freshman orientation, "Remember, you're not going to be able to afford to eat here all the time." Thirty-two years later, her words are still a wrong call!
Nick's Tavern and Deli
107-2 Sloan Street
Clemson, SC 29631