Nickels Deli (https://nickelsdeli.com) has been serving customers since 1990. The chain was originally owned by singer Céline Dion and the Mammas brothers, Lawrence and Peter. The latter two, along with Jacques Gaspo, eventually folded the operation into their Foodtastic (www.foodtastic.ca) company which today includes Carlos and Pepe’s, Sandouchon. Souvlaki Bar, La Belle & La Boeuf, Vinnie Gambini, Bacaro, Gatto Matto, Le Blossom and most recently Enoteca Monza.
Restaurant industry veteran David DiRaddo was recently appointed director of operations for the 11 Nickels locations in Quebec. This includes the chain’s first ever food court express location at Place Vertu. David suggested Glenn and I meet him at the still rather new St. Léonard franchise, located in a shopping mall on Jean Talon near Pie IX. Open since July 2018, we were greeted by David and manager Sam Kassar. The spot has a very clear sports theme, with a large mural featuring some of Montreal’s outstanding sports heroes. There are also logos of the Canadiens, Alouettes, Impact and Expos embedded in the brick wall, as well as no less than 10 flat screen televisions showing the best games of the day and night and a full bar. With seating for 180 people, this Nickels has already attracted a warm following.
Besides St. Léonard and Place Vertu, you can find the other Nickels franchises on Marcel Laurin Blvd. in St. Laurent, Dorval, Place Versailles, Rue St-Hubert, Laval, St. Jérôme, Sainte-Adèle, Joliette and Gatineau.
The first thing you need to know about Nickels is that it has a gigantic menu. It is updated and reprinted each July while an insert with different specials is changed quarterly. Known for its smoked mea, Nickels also features terrific appetizers, burgers, sandwiches, salads, pastas, pizza, chicken, steak, ribs, seafood, milkshakes, desserts, a kids menu and other satisfying options. There is a breakfast menu served each morning which DiRaddo has designs on making available all day as well as lunch specials.
Kassar recommended that we begin by sharing a family platter, which includes onion rings with
The two of us then shared a virtual feast: a jumbo smoked meat sandwich, General Tao tempura chicken with rice, baby back ribs basted with Sweet Baby Ray’s bbq sauce, an
Glenn and I divided up the leftovers and saved room for two of the restaurants more popular desserts: the strawberry cheesecake and the truly decadent Celine chocolate cake.
In Glenn’s case, he had not been to a Nickels restaurant in many years and the variety offered on the current menu truly surprised him.
“It is an older brand and we are reviving it,” said DiRaddo.
From Sunday to Thursday after 4 pm, children 10 and under eat for free. This is applicable of course to kids accompanied by an adult who have ordered a main dish at a regular price. Only one child per adult.
It will be interesting to see what comes next for the Nickels brand. The food court format appears to be a big hit, so there could be more of those locations and I can certainly think of many places in Quebec which could benefit from a restaurant with such a diversified menu. Log on to the full menu at www.nickelsdeli.com.