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September 17, 2022 - 8:05am
posted by Joanne Beck in news, Nancy Nickerson, d&r depot, Le Roy, notify.


Throughout her 90 years, Nancy Nickerson built a network of friends, appreciative customers and loyal staff at the place where she could always be found since owning D&R Depot in Le Roy.

Words such as sweet, welcoming, intelligent, and inspirational seem to flow easily from those who describe her. However, her steadfast spirit may best be defined by how she reacted after a minor stroke in February. Not only did the nonagenarian come back from that, but she actually rebounded mightily, son Jay says.

“She took exercise class and she would do extra reps of the exercise. She kept getting stronger,” he said during an interview Friday. “I’m still working on wrapping my head around … she began to work in that restaurant two years older than I am. I’m taking that as I can still figure out what I want to be when I grow up, I can start a whole new career.”

He and others marvel at the tenacity of Nancy Nickerson, who died Aug. 16, five days after having a massive stroke. Jay tends to believe that she died “getting ready to go to work,” and her body, strengthened from that exercise, kept going awhile longer. Long enough, in fact, to give family and friends time to see her and gain some closure, he said.

It wasn’t easy to talk about his mom without tears, another testament to the impact she made on people. Her countless customers and partners, Sean Valdes and his wife and head chef Jennifer, and restaurant staff will carry on at the restaurant, he said. But there will be a palpable shift.

“I think it’s just going to lose a little,” he said, pausing to find the right word. “Je ne sais quoi.”


A quality that cannot be described or named easily seems to fit Nancy well, as those who tried to describe her captured her essence more than nailing down adjectives. For example, her greatest skill, Jay said, was in finding the right people for the job. He named Sean Valdes as one of them; someone who began as a dishwasher at the restaurant and worked his way up.

Sean was just 14, and has worked with Nancy for 30 years, becoming a part owner for the last 20. As time marched on, he grew to admire this woman who — at 60 years old — decided to go into the restaurant business with husband Don. They revamped the entire place, installed a commercial kitchen, and “she was here literally every day,” Valdes said.

“Seven days a week she was here to greet you and visit each table, and chit-chat,” he said. “She loved her customers, she loved the industry. It wasn’t a job, it was her calling.”

Nancy had prior experience, having worked at Red Osier for 24 years. Don died in 2000, and she kept forging ahead, and “genuinely loved everyone who walked through the front door,” Valdes said. Not that they were always agreeable about every facet of the business,  he said — Valdes was about profit margins and Nancy was about pleasing customers. Her focus on patrons as the bottom line served Nancy well, as did her concern for the community and charity. She began a Community Mondays program that donated a portion of one’s bill to a favorite charity each Monday during a three-month period, and that's just one of her many efforts.

If she was at the end of a 16-hour shift and someone needed ketchup, Nancy would be the one to go and get some from the kitchen, Valdes said. She was a believer in the saying “a rising tide lifts all boats,” versus each man for himself.

“There’s something about Nancy’s drive, intelligence and commitment to customers,” Valdes said. “It will not be the same.”

In the vein of, "if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it," the restaurant itself will continue on status quo, he said. There will be no changes to the menu, hours or staff, as all of those things have worked well, he said. Patti Rubino is part of the serving staff, and she has been there for 21 years. Though strict at first and wanting things to run a certain way, Nancy was “a very good boss,” Rubino said. And she will be missed.

“She loved everybody, and she will be remembered,” Rubino said, listing some of the things that her beloved boss would do: handing out wooden nickels when the train came by for a free dessert at the next visit; creating potpies that were personally served tableside and initiating the onion soup with scissors. (The scissors were to cut through the thick melted layer of cheese.)


Nancy was also known as an avid gardener, often out in the restaurant yard deadheading her prized roses. She was actually more than a boss to Rubino, and a pretty special restaurateur as well, given the response when she died. More than 3,000 people posted comments online and sent flowers and sympathy cards and made donations in her name. Some online comments included “I am so sorry for everyone’s loss. She was a wonderful person who always made you feel welcome,” “Sweetheart of a woman and she will be greatly missed,” and “Such a nice lady with a beautiful personality and smile. May she RIP.”

“She was family,” Rubino said. “She was always there to help somebody out.”

Keeping busy at her livelihood, plus immersing herself in books may have been why Nancy retained a great memory for most of her life. She and her husband would take their kids on excursions that surpassed the typical, such as going to Florida and including museums, botanical gardens and other sites with a trip to Disney World. There were always a lot of experiences like that, Jay said. He credits the restaurant for keeping her sharp and her independent nature for helping to define his own character.

Jay, whose siblings include Judy, Jon, Jeff, Jim and David, was proud to note that out of that entire two dozen years at Red Osier — going from waitress to office manager — his mom only took one sick day, and earned a reputation for a terrific work ethic. Whether or not she had aches or pains, you never heard her complain about anything, he said. She was a true optimist and someone with intrinsic gifts who ended up knowing a lot of people. He would often say to strangers he’d just met, I bet there’s a 50 percent chance that you know my mother. And they usually would.

“Nancy had a way of making you feel welcome. I don’t know how she did that,” he said. “I was always impressed with how she could talk with anybody.”

A Celebration of Life will be held at the D & R Depot from 1 to 6 p.m. Sunday.  All who knew her are invited. In lieu of flowers, the family requests you make memorials to the Jell-O Museum, 23 East Main St., LeRoy, NY, 14482, or the Woodward Memorial Library at 7 Wolcott St., LeRoy, NY, 14482.

Top File Photo of Nancy Nickerson, right, with Sean and Jennifer Valdes at the D&R Depot restaurant; Nancy and Sean promoting their New York-only wine offerings, both photos by Howard Owens. Photo of a birthday celebration for Nancy, submitted by Sean Valdes.

December 16, 2020 - 11:58am

Submitted photo and press release:

The Batavia-based David M. McCarthy Memorial Foundation, in conjunction with Gilmartin Funeral Home & Cremation Company Inc. and food provided by D&R Depot, provided 300 meals to the employees at the United Memorial Medical Center this morning.

This year has been so difficult for so many, especially the doctors, nurses, first responders, aftercare workers, kitchen staff, office staff, maintenance staff and administrators.

We thought what better way to show our appreciation for their hard work and dedication than by providing a nice meal for all who are trying to keep this community healthy and safe and get back to some type of normalcy.

Our foundation, which formed in 2007, after David passed away has committed to helping all types of youth athletics in the Genesee County area. Through our annual golf tournament at Batavia Country Club and Bowling Tournament at T.F. Brown's, the foundation has donated more than $65,000 in total to youth athletics.

Partnering with Gilmartin, which has seen firsthand the toll this coronavirus pandemic has taken on the local community, we hope this small gesture will bring a morale boost to everyone at the hospital.

Photo, from left: Pete Stevens, Mike McCarthy, Brian McCarthy, TJ Woodward and Matt Meyer.

July 31, 2019 - 12:19pm

In photo, from left: Ryan Duffy, director HLOM; Kathy Jasinski, committee member; Sean Valdes, co-owner of D&R Depot; Alice Chapell, committee member; and Linda Johnston, committee member.

Submitted photo and press release:

CHRISTMAS IN AUGUST? While some people are taking vacations and enjoying the summer, several dedicated volunteers at the Holland Land Office Museum are preparing for the 2019 Wonderland of Tree’s Gala Opening on Friday, Nov. 22nd. Pictured above are some members of the Wonderland of Tree’s Committee, who recently met at the D&R Depot in Le Roy to discuss the menu for the upcoming Gala with Sean Valdes, co-owner of the restaurant and catering service.

D&R Depot will be catering the 2019 Wonderland of Tree’s Gala Opening.

The Wonderland of Trees Gala Opening, at the historic Holland Land Office Museum, kicks off the holiday season for the Genesee County Community. It will have the traditional display of trees, music and great food that people have enjoyed over the past 16 years. Many new ideas are being incorporated into the regular Gala to provide a wonderful holiday event for everyone.

More information will be available soon -- you can call the Holland Land Office if you are interested in setting up a tree at 343-4727.

November 5, 2015 - 3:00pm

Do you remember playing Scrabble, Blackjack, Go Fish!, The Missing Puzzle Piece, The Locked Glass Box, Wheel of Fortune and Bing? It’s that time of year again for the D & R Depot’s Fall Contest! This year we invite you to play our new exclusive scratch off game “Choo-Choo Chances” for a chance to win $100.00!

Here are the rules: When you dine at the Depot between Sunday, Nov. 1st and Sunday, Nov. 22nd you will receive one Choo-Choo Chance ticket for every $10 you spend! Just scratch your tickets to reveal your prizes! Unlike New York State, all of our tickets are at least $10 winners!

Remember, the more you order, the more people you bring, and the more visits you make means more winnings in your pocket! And of course, EVERYONE that plays the game WINS at least $10.00, so basically, you’re eating for free for the entire month of November! Now, don’t forget to save this contest in your phone. Start time:11/1/15, 7 a.m., end time 11/22/15, 9 p.m. You’d better set the alarm, too!

August 20, 2013 - 2:33pm
posted by Sean Valdes in Part-Time, job, Server, d&r depot.
Company Name: 
D & R Depot Restaurant
Job Type: 

The D & R Depot Restaurant in LeRoy is looking for an experienced server to join our team of service professionals.  This position does require weekends and evening shifts.  Applicants should enjoy working with people, be extremely customer service oriented, possess good communication skills and enjoy working in a fast paced environment.  Our servers do not "tip out", so you control and keep all of your income.  Applicants can e-mail their resume to [email protected], or stop by the restaurant for an application 8am-10am, or 2pm-4pm daily.  No phon

March 24, 2013 - 11:59am
posted by Billie Owens in d&r depot.

NOTE: Earlier this year, the Chamber of Commerce published its annual Genesee County Tourism magazine and for the second year in a row, The Batavian participated in the publication by producing photos and stories. Today, for your Sunday reading, we're publishing four of our stories. For more on why Genesee County is a great place to live and to visit, click here for VisitGeneseeNY.com.

When Nancy Nickerson decided late in life to open a restaurant, she knew what she didn't want -- a cookie-cutter establishment that heated up frozen food and took other shortcuts.

"I wanted a building that looked different, I wanted something that would attract people," said Nancy, who opened D & R Depot Restaurant in Le Roy in 1991. "And partly that was also due to our menu. We were doing things from scratch. People don't do homemade things anymore. They don't have time, so we offer them that."

Combine unbeatable home-cooked flavor with "a different ambiance" and superior service and you have the recipe for success that has built a legion of loyal patrons.

Her business partners, Sean Valdes and his wife, Jennifer, who's the head chef, began working there 20 and 18 years ago, respectively. They both started as dish washers.

The building itself is an old train station, located at 63 Lake St. (Route 19). It was one of the busiest passenger depots in the area until it closed mid-1960s. The railroad line that currently travels the tracks is the Genesee-Wyoming-Southern.

Inside, things remain much as they were, but with fresh paint and decor, of course. There are elegant 20-foot-high ceilings, wainscoting along the walls and lots of windows. The ticket clerk's office is still there, and so is the luggage portal. Big Band-era music plays softly.

Look up in the main dining room and you'll see a little feat of engineering -- a choo-choo train on a platform, which is decorated seasonally. Everything on it hangs upside down; the train runs along its track upside down, too.

It's unique and kids love it.

Customers also enjoy the personal touches that D & R Depot offers. If a real train passes by the restaurant while you're there, you get a keepsake "wooden nickel." You can sign up to receive a $10-off coupon and a free cupcake for your birthday. They also have a word game to win gift coupons and a guessing game at Christmas season with a chance to get a $400 gas card.

There are gifts for sale -- like hand-painted button pins, scarves, stuffed animals -- and history books such as one about the Jell-O Gallery Museum (which is also in Le Roy). Patrons on the mailing list get a newsletter to keep up to date on dinner specials, contests, etc., and the Web site is kept current.

"People feel an emotional connection to us -- like they're part of the business," Sean said. "And they are part of the business. They are the reason we're here."

Their loyalty has enabled the proprietors to acquire Double L Rental, which rents tents, linens, chairs, tables, etc., for weddings, corporate parties and the like. And soon, their banquet hall at another Le Roy location will open with seating for about 175 people.

But it's the food that keeps people coming back for more.

A basket of fresh-baked muffins, scones and rolls is brought to each table at dinner time. Jen develops new dishes, such as the "No Nothing Pie." After some trial and error, she created a vegan apple pie without added sugar, no gluten, and nut free.

Authentic Polish glomkis -- stuffed cabbage leaves topped with a tomato sauce -- are occasionally offered for the famous all-inclusive dinner special, available every Sunday.

Old-fashioned chicken pot pie is a customer favorite. It's brought to the table, turned upside down onto the plate and served piping hot. The French onion soup is made (without a starter base) from slowly carmelized, fresh onions, a touch of sherry and thyme, topped with croutons from homemade bread and melted cheese. (A tiny pair of scissors is included with each bowl to snip strands of cheese!)

"People will always purchase if they perceive a value," Sean said. "If you're giving them a good product, good price, good service."

D & R Depot Restaurant & Catering Services

63 Lake St. (Route 19)

Le Roy, NY 14482

(585) 768-6270


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