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August 23, 2009 - 8:15pm

St. Nick's closing its doors

posted by Brian Hillabush in batavia, Lions Club, restaurant, St. Nick's.

Saint Nicholas Social Club president Michael Rimmer wrote a letter to the editor in The Daily News in early December saying that he planned on the club remaining open for another 65 years.

But, after many decades of being a meeting place for friends and a place for socialstnicks.thumbnail.jpg groups to gather, St. Nick's will be closing its doors for good on Monday.

Rimmer expressed concern but said the club was trying its best to stay open in a June 5 story on The Batavian. He talked about how the poor economy has hurt many local businesses.

The rumors that have been passed around for many months are finally becoming true, adding yet another sad chapter that is the current state of Batavia.

St. Nick's will stay open for Monday night's Lions Club meeting and then will be shutting down. The Lions have been meeting at the club for many years and are searching for a new meeting place.

Howard B. Owens
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It's disappointing to see such a community institution pass from the scene.
Steve Ognibene
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This is terrible but like many restaurants in this bad economic times it will be sadly missed.
Amy Davis
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Very sad indeed. Spent a lot of time there enjoying meals and company of friends.
John Roach
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While it is sad another business is now gone, I want to hear from Councilman Ferrando. He got them thousands of dollars in city bail out money and is/was on the Board of Directors. Where did our city money go? I think he should tell us.
Timothy Paine
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John that was a small business loan wasn't it?. Wasn't it was given to them as a loan? "Bail-out money" is a new term and you're just trying to spin it as government corruption and tack it on to todays headlines. The financial problems the club has endured have been in the news and everyone knows about it. Nice job trying to turn a sad situation into political fodder for your hack-attack agenda. It is sad to see another entity succumb to this economy, especially when it has such a rich history in our community.
John Roach
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Tim, It was a $30,000 loan from the city that was a bail out and they got a $6,000 grant (free) money from the city also. I was agaisnt it from the start, as I have been against any bail out money. Call it what you want, I would like to see the paper trail where all that money went. Mr. Ferrando was involved, but you also just went to a fund raiser for him also, so how political is your post?
Daniel Jones
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How is what John said a "hack attack"? He has a legitimate question about what happened to the funding that the City gave to Saint Nick's.
Bea McManis
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I'm curious why a private club would qualify for a $30,000 amall business loan. The club was restricted to members except for the meals (no different than other private clubs in the city). I'm surprised that a city loan would go to a "members only" entity. If they are not-for-profit then I could see them qualifying for a grant. Yes, the history of the St. Nicholas Society is rich and had it's beginnings at St. Anthony's Church. They met, for years, at St. Anthony's Community Center. When did it become a small business and how did it qualify for that loan in the first place?
Richard Gahagan
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Fergiddaboutit.
Karen Miconi
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We've been to a few Grad ,and B-day parties there. I remember Cappy in the kitchen making the sauce, and the servers. Food was good, but the place never seemed to be doing very well. One things for sure, the place holds alot of memories, and I'm sure will be missed. I think if they would have opened their doors to the public, maybe they would have done better.
Timothy Paine
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"except for the meals"? Doesn't that qualify it as a restaraunt? John, have you ever approached the City on what it takes to get a loan? You think Frank just gave it to them? You have to present a business plan, have a credit check, be approved and put up collateral if needed. It is a big process and not done with a wink and a nod. They must have qualified or they wouldn't have been approved. As far as the fund raiser for Frank, why are you so interested in where my wife takes me to dinner for my birthday? We had a good time and the food was great. It was the first time I've eaten at the track. (yes Dan, the FIRST time). I got a free spin on the wheel and won a $5 free play. Back to the thread. Sometimes businesses still can't make even after in infusion of money. It's sad it had to happen, but let's make sure we can attach some political rhetoric to something when ever possible. This is about a business closing its doors, poeple losing jobs and a place where friends and families have shared memories and fun for years leaving our community. That's what this is about.
Bea McManis
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Tim, it was me who made the comment about "except for meals". I guess I'm curious when it became a small business (restaurant) and not a private club. The meals, when served to the public, is considered an on-going fund raiser for the club. Generally the wait staff are members of the club or volunteers. I liked the club. We had many meals there and our family gathered after many funerals. I'm not questioning the loan, per se, but the designation of the facilty. I have a difficult time understanding how the city could invest money in a 'private club'. No different than my confusion about a lady who used to be the postmistress of Lilydale but couldn't live there because she wasn't a psychic. How could the government fund a public post office in a restricted town? Just the way my mind works.
Richard Gahagan
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I wonder if anyone ever skimmed any cash from the till over the years.
Timothy Paine
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I know Bea. Just saying they did serve meals. I just know what it takes to get help from local institutions as far as small business loans go. It's not easy. I don't care who you know, it's a lot of work and you have to be approved by many people. They would have to have had the right credentials and met all the qualifications needed to get a loan.
John Roach
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Tim, You tell me what's wrong with wanting to know where the money went? There should be records and it was the public's money, right? It also happended that a leading member of the Board of Directors of the club was also Council President and he is running for reelection. He also had a major say in who approved the loans. Current Council members also questioned the process the "committee", who apprioved the loans, was using. Even the City Manager at the time of the loan said this was not a good idea, but there really wasn't much he could do. Tim, this has a political tone. Two years ago, when you ran for City Council, you sat with us many times having coffee and said that this was not right. Now, you say its ok. Why? And Bea is right. This was not a "restaraunt". It was a private, members only club. I could not go in anytime I wanted, only at certain times.
Timothy Paine
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John, guess what, it was a loan. It is no longer the City's money. It was lent to the Nick's Club. It is now their money to spend as they choose. We did not attach any restrictions to how, or where they used it. As far as what I said when we had coffee, I never said we had control over how it should spent. I never asked to see where it went. That part of it is none of our business. If you feel the need to persue some "conspiracy theory" about how the loan was approved, fine. That still has nothing to do with a business closing. You are so focused on stinging someone you don't get that this is sad. That's still what this thread is about.
Chris Charvella
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Tim, If what John is saying is correct, and I have no reason to doubt him, then his points are certainly relevant to this year's City Council race. It is sad to lose such an integral part of Batavia's culture but mourning the loss of a Batavia icon is no reason for us to neglect our duty as citizens to hold our elected officials accountable for their actions.
Timothy Paine
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Chris, correct. But I wouldn't think you would want the bank or any lender telling you how or where to spend money for your business, especially if the loan wasn't structured that way. If he is claiming that funds were mis-appropriated or embezzled, that's different. If John is claiming that illegal activities were involved, yes it should be looked at. If the money was used to run a business that just simply failed then what recourse is there? Is John claiming illegal appropriation of funds? Did the City loan require disclousure of how and where to spend it? Did the managment team at the Nick's Club do it's best to succeed, and is that even our business? Chris, as a business owner do you know what is required to get a loan from the City? Can one man make it happen with-out others approving the loan as well? Can it be done with a wink and a nod?
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Tim, The point of my thread was that this was a private social club. I do not think they would have been given a penny of City money if Mr. Ferrando was not both on the Board of Directors of the club and City Council President at the same time. It was not a “business” and I do not think it should have received the money. That’s my opinion and I have stood by it for over two years. Further, two years ago, you agreed, now you don't. But Mr. Ferrando is running again. I have never made a secret that I do not support him and this is just one reason why.
Timothy Paine
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Calm down John. This is about another business closing. It's not about Frank giving out illegal loans as you claim. It's about the loss of another local institution. Brian was telling us about a sad event, not a "conspiracy theory". Thanks for the article Brian.
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Tim, I'll have to start by clearing something up. I am not the owner of our business. I will say that in nearly 52 years of operation, we have never sought public funds from the City in the form of grants or loans and we will continue to operate in this manner as long as we exist. Can you really say with a straight face that a man who was the City Council President and also sat on the Board of Directors for the entity in question wouldn't have the clout to push a loan through; particularly when that loan was approved by a committee and not by a vote of the entire Council? Weren't that committee's members approved by Council President Ferrando? Council President Ferrando should have stayed a thousand miles away from that committee while the loan was being approved and, from what I understand, he did not. The whole thing smells unethical at best.
John Roach
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Tim, Your not having another "bad" day are you? This was not a business, but a club. You get an "A" for effort. Sorry you don't know which is which. And who said Frank did anything illegal, only you said that. It was legal, but it was not right and again, two years ago, you agreed. What made you change your mind?
Russ Salway
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I'm sure this thread could go on forever! What matters the most is that another part of our city, our memories, our history is now gone! This would make just another chapter in Bill Kauffman's "Dispatches from the Muckdog Gazette"! How many more local businesses, local history, heart and soul institution's in our backyard will we lose before we say enough is enough? Yes these are tough economic times! We need to come together as a community and save what we have left. If not, all we will have left are stories of how great Batavia used to be and just chapters to read! Pointing fingers will get you nowhere fast! Why don't we all try and point them at ourselves and see what we can do to make our community great again! Don't just type and point out problems, involve yourself to fix them! Let's use our energy in a positive way! Let's stop losing what we have left!
John Roach
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Tim, I just got an email that pointed out this has become about you and me, and it was right. I made my point and you made yours. Neither of us is going to change the others mind, so I am ending this one. There will lots of time to debate candidates later.
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Well said Russ and I'd like to point out that I have stepped up to help our community. Creating an open and honest government is a major reason why I'm running for the County Legislature in the 8th District. Mr. Ferrando may not have done anything wrong, but his actions certainly drew the wrong kind of attention. If he had disclosed his affiliations to the public and removed himself from the transaction, we wouldn't be having this coversation. Elected oficials should consider the ethics of every situation they're in and act accordingly.
John Roach
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A change in the post. Is there a place for this type of social club in Batavia anymore? There were many private clubs at one time with their own buildings, but it seems they have gone out of style.
Bea McManis
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The V.F.W The Elks Polish Falcons American Legion Masonic Lodge Sacred Heart Social Club
John Roach
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Bea, Thanks. I didn't know the Elks were still around.
Howard B. Owens
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I might take the time later and do a post about what is happening to social capital/social connectedness across this country. This club closing is, to my mind, symbolic of what all civic institutions are facing -- a decline and erosion of participation that started in the mid 1960s, and catches up with more and more institutions. A large measure of the blame can be laid at the feet of television, which not only sucks up a lot of the time that people used to devote to their communities, but actually encourages passivity. I'd also like to associate myself with Russ's comment.
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John I would think if the city loaned them 30,000 dollars they must of had to use the property as collateral,so when they sell the property the city should get paid back then..Any loan I have ever had I needed to put up something as collateral..Hopefully the city manager is on top of this..Nobody lends out money with out looking at the income statements to make sure they can pay it back..So you would think the city as looked at their books..As Tim said this is a business, and thats what you need to show to get a business loan..
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Howard, I agree ! " A large measure of the blame can be laid at the feet of television, which not only sucks up a lot of the time that people used to devote to their communities, but actually encourages passivity". I think that another large measure is due to the internet and other technoligies too. No, wait.....oh yes well, this website as example.....
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Garbor, the decline in social engagement started in the mid 1960s, and the decline continued, according to sociologists, until the mid 1990s, where it leveled off (and I'm not sure what's happened since 2000 or so, haven't seen that data). So the Internet can't be blamed. But I do think the Internet can help solve the problem, which is part of the reason I started The Batavian.
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I did try and steer the post back to what it was really about, the closing of something that has been a long time part of our community. Thanks Russ! It is a sad thing and that's what Brian wrote about. There are plenty of political subjects, this isn't one of them. Thanks Brian, Howard, Russ, Steve, Amy, Karen and Bea and anyone else who knew what this story was about.
Gabor Deutsch
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I can argue with you (Howard) forever on the point of social decline. Do your statistics include prices of things and the likelihood of people working longer hours and multiple jobs for each household member ? I dont think TV is to blame any more than Internet but they both can be as helpful/hurtful. I love this(your)website and was just using it as an example, But really...... If its social decay thats to blame then blame the automobile and technology for the sit on the butt problem , most people I know dont have time to do "community" stuff they are trying to make money.
Howard B. Owens
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There is no statistical correlation between people working longer hours, or more women working, or just about any other change in society you can name, save TV. That and the dying off of World War II generation, which peaked as the most socially connected generation around 1965. So, TV and generational change are the only two statistically valid explanations. The biggest impact the Internet has had is to reduce the amount of time people watch TV. It's unlikely the Internet has contributed to social decline, but merely replaced one activity for another. The fact that we can use the Internet for community conversation provides an opportunity to bring back some of the social capital that has been lost to TV.
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Posted by Howard Owens on August 24, 2009 - 9:36pm The biggest impact the Internet has had is to reduce the amount of time people watch TV. It's unlikely the Internet has contributed to social decline, but merely replaced one activity for another. Or, in my case (when I was working and even now) the TV and the internet are interchangeable. As Gabor can testify, my computer monitor and TV are almost on top of each other. A throw back to when I worked with programs like Planet Earth; Deadliest Catch; Trading Spaces; Sunday Night Football and others where people could watch the program and discuss it, on line, at the same time. TV kept people at home. The Wednesday night card parties; the Friday night dances; Sunday night progressive suppers etc. did become a thing of the past. As insidious as TV invaded our lives, it has nothing on the technology we now have and enjoy. The internet email; chat rooms; bulletin boards and instant message brought people together, but destroyed spelling and grammer. People are connecting, but they are losing the social skills needed in a civil society. We have learned to use the brb, afk, gtg, lol, hagd, etc. with ease. Texting reduced language skills even more. Is there a need for clubs like St. Nick's and the others. Yes, I believe there is. Can they survive in this economy? I'm not sure.
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I don't think social clubs are disappearing, I think they are moving. My parents were never members of any "club" until I was in high school when they moved their boat from Braddock's Bay out to Eagle Creek Marina in Kendall. Once there, they joined the Yacht Club. Most people think of yacht clubs as snooty. I only know this one and I can tell you that is far from the truth. The group is basically self sufficient and that is why you never hear for them. Aside from the annual Chicken BBQ, Pig Roast and Clam Bake festivities, the group is paid for by the members. They are full of trade workers. I dare say most of them don't have college degrees. Many other people are joining Country Clubs. As people have become more successful, they are finding they like the amenities provided by these recreation clubs. People seem to work harder now a days then in the past. That makes them appreciate their free time more and spend it doing things to make themselves happy instead of clubs like the Lions and Elks where they can still be just as happy but maybe not in a way that is as enjoyable as the Yacht Club. I am a member of the Rochester Erin's Isle Football Club. We are much more a social group then we are a football team. Yes we love to play but the good times afterwards are why we come to games even when injured or after our bodies fail us. We generally have one fund raiser all year. You never hear about us because our goal isn't community involvement. I have done the most work in the group in recent years getting our club into the realm of public knowledge. Sure we march in the annual St. Patrick's Day parade in Rochester, but this year through my efforts, I have post some teams news both here and on a sports fan web page devoted specifically to Rochester's team. I think the argument that the internet caused spelling and grammar to go out the window is crap. Just look at this site and you will see that most people spell correctly. The grammar used here is a much higher level then that used in normal society. If society were truly in the social death spiral that is inferred above, then we wouldn't have had the out pouring of support for Anthony Diponzio that was shown by the Rochester community these past few months.
Howard B. Owens
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Peter, there are fewer people in yacht clubs than in 1965, fewer people in country clubs, fewer people participating in league sports -- from 1965, social participation in every respect has fallen precipitously. Talk to any manager of say a country club, and they'll talk about how they struggle for membership. It's worse in more urbanized areas than rural towns, but it's across the board. What you observe is merely anecdotal. The sociologists who gather and track stats across the country on such things see a very different picture. The decline in social capital is the main reason newspapers are dying. The Internet is merely exposing many structural weaknesses in the newspaper business, but the decline was already well documented before the first Web page was launched. Read Robert Putnam's Bowling Alone -- stuffed with charts and graphs documenting all of this.
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Posted by Howard Owens on August 25, 2009 - 7:41am The decline in social capital is the main reason newspapers are dying. The Internet is merely exposing many structural weaknesses in the newspaper business, but the decline was already well documented before the first Web page was launched. Read Robert Putnam's Bowling Alone -- stuffed with charts and graphs documenting all of this. For those who might want to see Putnam's take on Social Capital: The central premise of social capital is that social networks have value. Social capital refers to the collective value of all "social networks" [who people know] and the inclinations that arise from these networks to do things for each other ["norms of reciprocity"]. How does social capital work? The term social capital emphasizes not just warm and cuddly feelings, but a wide variety of quite specific benefits that flow from the trust, reciprocity, information, and cooperation associated with social networks. Social capital creates value for the people who are connected and - at least sometimes - for bystanders as well. Social capital works through multiple channels: - Information flows (e.g. learning about jobs, learning about candidates running for office, exchanging ideas at college, etc.) depend on social capital. - Norms of reciprocity (mutual aid) rely on social networks. Bonding networks that connect folks who are similar sustain particularized (in-group) reciprocity. Bridging networks that connect individuals who are diverse sustain generalized reciprocity. - Collective action depends upon social networks (e.g., the role that the black church played in the Civil Rights movement) although collective action also can foster new networks. - Broader identities and solidarity are encouraged by social networks that help translate an "I" mentality into a "we" mentality Good recommended reading, Howard. Another book to add to fall reading. Thanks :)
Peter O'Brien
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Howard, I don't have time to read that. Does he account for non tradition social groups like table top RPG'ers? Video Game clans and guilds? Just those two alone would account for millions of people.
Howard B. Owens
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Are those groups local with local meetings?
Peter O'Brien
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Table Top RPG'ers usually are since they meet in person. Some video game guilds and clans are local but most are nationwide and some are worldwide via the internet.
Bea McManis
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Posted by John Roach on August 24, 2009 - 5:20pm Bea, Thanks. I didn't know the Elks were still around. The Elks' Club, in Batavia, is located on 213 E Main St
Daniel Jones
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Back to an earlier point, and this is directed at Tim. How is this not a political issue? The person who at the time was the City Council President, was able to have Council authorize a 30,000 dollar loan for Saint Nick's. The group has now gone under. There is a very simple and lurking question here, what happened to the money? I think that those who receive taxpayer funding should be held accountable, don't you? Also, are you admitting to being at a Republican fundraiser?
Timothy Paine
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Dan, you're in college so I'm reasonably sure you can read. This post is not and never was about politics. Instead of being so interested in my families lives, you really need to get one of your own. See you Saturday.
Daniel Jones
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Tim, I'm not interested in your "families lives", I am interested to hear whether you were at a Republican fundraiser. 30,000 dollars is a lot of money. What happened to it?
Daniel Jones
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"Get one of your own". Classy.
Timothy Paine
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Dan, Dan , Dan. You really kill me. My wife is a Conservative Committee Member. Am I not supposed to go out to dinner with my wife because I am a Democrat? Classy or not, you really, really need to get a life of your own.
Daniel Jones
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Tim, despite your assertations that I don't have a "life", which I do, you still seem to be cryptic about your answer as to whether you were at a Republican fundraiser. Regardless of whether your wife bought the tickets, the fact that you were there indicates moral support for Republican candidates. This is while you are a Democratic committee member. This, combined with your jumping at the chance to defend Frank Ferrando, a person whom you were vehemently against having the Council Presidency when you yourself ran for Council in 2007 makes me wonder about your loyalty to the Democratic Party. To the original point though, and a again, 30,000 dollars is a whole lot of money, it is not unreasonable to ask Mr. Ferrando what happened to it.
Peter O'Brien
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Dan, Until you are committed to someone, you will not understand Tim's position. Why do you worry about his allegiance to party? Is that more important to you than his values? Than is commitment to his personal life? You need to stop acting like your from the Democrat Underground and start pretending to be a human.

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