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adds link to chain

Nick Tahou Hots
adds link to chain

Nick Tahou Hots Inc. has even more on its plate now.
Famed locally for its amply portioned but economically priced menu, the restaurant last week opened its third location, in Oswego.
The venture is Nick Tahou’s first outside the Rochester area.
Like the original Nick Tahou’s, which has done business on West Main Street since 1918, and Nick Tahou Hots II, serving customers on Lyell Avenue in Gates since 1979, Nick Tahou’s in Oswego features a low-cost menu stripped to bare essentials with hardly a “lite,” fat-free or low-cholesterol item, said Alexander Tahou, manager of the three restaurants and, at 40, the third generation Tahou to run the business.
Hamburgers, hot dogs, chili and standard diner breakfasts form the mainstays of Tahou fare. The piece de resistance is the Garbage Plate, consisting of either two hot dogs or two hamburgers plus any two or three of the following: french fries, home fries, baked beans, potato salad or macaroni salad.
Those who want three sides get slightly less of each. For an extra 40 cents, you can upgrade to cheeseburgers.
Quantity and price, rather than concession to food faddism, have accounted for 77 years of Nick Tahou restaurant success, Tahou believes.
Even so, he admitted, the Oswego restaurant is making a concession to current fashion, adding a grilled chicken breast Garbage Plate.
The Oswego venture, adjacent to the SUNY College at Oswego campus and featuring a “spectacular” view of Lake Ontario, also has slightly higher prices and a softer decor than the original West Main Street restaurant’s early Formica motif, Tahou said.
Another difference: It will not be an all-night eatery.
Will the Tahou formula transplant despite the differences?
“Sure. They got the college there,” opined the eponymous Nick Tahou in the same Greek-accented English in which he maintains a running stream of wisecracks for the benefit of any patron who will listen.
An oft-repeated sample:
“Before we were married my wife thought I was a Greek god. You know what she calls me now? A goddamn Greek.”
The elder Tahou retired five years ago, turning over operations to his son. How- ever, he continues to put in time daily at the West Main Street restaurant, whose operations he took over after his own father’s death in 1942.
His father immigrated from Greece shortly after the turn of the century, and started the business with a pushcart, Tahou said. Nick and the rest of the family followed in the 1930s.
It was under Nick Tahou that the eatery moved in 1968 to its present location in a former train station on West Main Street after its first home a block away fell to urban renewal. And it was he who invented the Garbage Plate.
College students always have been the restaurant’s most avid devotees, Tahou said. Over the years, many have returned from distant states and foreign shores to tell him they missed nothing so much in Rochester as late-night Garbage Plates on West Main Street. One, he has heard, has even set up a Nick Tahou’s World Wide Web site.
The younger Tahou, though conceding that the downtown restaurant’s legend as a wee-hours hangout for students, police officers and a collection of types you probably do not want to know too much about looms large, does not believe its success stems from such trade.
“It’s a myth,” he said. “The real moneymaker downtown is the lunch trade. On Lyell, it’s dinner.”
And while the Lyell location also is open all night, it does negligible late-night business, he said. It attracts more of a family crowd.
What really sells is cheap food and lots of it, a formula from which he intends to depart little.
His father approves.
“I made my money,” Nick Tahou said. “I got plenty. Now it’s his turn.”


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