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St. Nick's Social Club

Batavia's newest restaurant, Daphne's, set to open in former St. Nick's on Monday

By Howard B. Owens

Daphne Cross started her professional life as a waitress. Now she's a restaurant owner, and her new business has her name on it.

The sign was installed today. The restaurant opens Monday.

The location will be familiar to a lot of area residents. It's on South Swan Street at the former St. Nick's Social Club.

Jeremy Yasses bought the building in June partially hoping to revive the legendary club, but when that idea didn't go as he'd hoped, he let Cross know the building was available.

"It's a nice location," Cross said. "It's big. It's on the Southside. There are residents around. They're excited. Somebody stops in every day."

The grand opening will be in three or four weeks after Cross's liquor license is approved.

For the past several weeks, Cross and crew have been busy cleaning, painting and installing equipment.

Her chef, Mark DeCann, said the menu will feature Italian dishes, seafood and steak.

"The three basics everybody wants," DeCann said.

He promises, "It will be good."

Local real estate investor purchases old St. Nick's Club with hope of getting another club going

By Howard B. Owens

Jeremy Yasses really misses those Friday afternoon lunches with his dad at St. Nick's, and after a while, he figured the only way he was going to get them back was if he bought the building on South Swan Street, Batavia, and provided the help to reopen it.

Today, Yasses closed on his $40,000 purchase, which included the contents of the building.

At 6 p.m., June 24, Yasses will host a meeting at the St. Nicholas for anybody who is interested in talking about forming a new club.

So far, he said, many former St. Nick's members have expressed interest in getting the club going again.

Yasses has also tried contacting former Elks Lodge members about sharing the space, but so far the response from the Elks has been cool.

"I'm willing to give free rent or a free lease for some period of time," Yasses said. "I really want to get the club going again. If that doesn't happen, well, OK, I have other people interested in the building."

Yasses said there are doctors interested in the space, or it might work for a veterinarian's office, and of course with all the space, the kitchen and large parking lot, it would also work for a restaurant. Whatever the space becomes, Yasses said, it needs to fit the zoning for the sake of the residential neighbors.

Recently, Yasses renovated a house at 38 Montclair St., Batavia, that he purchased out of an estate sale. Prior to that, he renovated a house on Ellicott Street that he purchased at a city tax lien auction.

"I've gotten only positive feedback (from city officials) on the properties I'm going to flip or renovate," Yasses said.

He said the initial feedback from the city has been supportive of his purchase and plans for the St. Nick's building.

Officially, if the new club is formed, it can't be known as the St. Nicholas Club. That business name has too many judgements against it and there are too many vendors that won't work with that business any longer.

Still, Yasses is hopeful the club -- if not in name, at least in spirit -- can be revived.

"I was a member, my dad was a member and my granddad was a member," Yasses said. "My idea is if we can get 300 members -- I believe they had 500 or 600 members when they shut down -- get 300 members to give $100, that's 30 grand. That will get the place going."

St. Nick's Club will pay off loans, president promises

By Howard B. Owens

St. Nick's Social Club has paid back more than $10,000 of the $36,000 it borrowed through a city program in 2006, reports Joanne Beck.

“We don’t plan on stiffing anybody,” Club President Michael Rimmer told Beck, saying the club promised to pay the entire balance.

No payment has been made since May 2008.

The loans have already gone to a collections agency, Professional Account Solutions of Spencerport.

City Attorney George Van Nest said he didn't know what arrangements or collateral the club offered when it took out the loans because he wasn't city attorney at the time.

Lack of participation by younger members hurt St. Nick's, Ferrando says

By Howard B. Owens

Declining participation by younger members led to the demise of St. Nick's Social Club, Frank Ferrando told WBTA.

"I think a lot of clubs today find it extremely difficult," Ferrando said. "Over time, losing a lot of our old-time members, the younger members didn't participate in the club as much as needed and you really need that membership participation in order to survive."

Ferrando, a city councilman, is a long-time board member of St. Nick's.

The 400-member club that has occupied its current location on South Swan Street since 1948, hosted the Lion's Club meeting last night as its final official function.

Ferrando also said local charities will lose out on a long-standing source of donations and assistance. (MP3)

Contrary to rumors, St. Nick's still open

By Howard B. Owens

The rumors flow in almost weekly: St. Nick's Social Club on S. Swan is closed, is closing or will close.

The latest rumor had St. Nick's with doors shuttered as of June 1.

I stopped by St. Nick's yesterday and today: Still open.

"We have no intention of closing," said Mike Rimmer, president of the board of directors. "Things have been tough financially, but we're still here."

He added, "Things are tough for a lot of clubs and restaurants. We're all hurting in this economy, and of course, people like to start rumors."

If St. Nick's were to close, the announcement would be made publicly at a monthly membership meeting.

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