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Nick’s International Foods closing retail shop, focusing on wholesale

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After 65 years in business, Nick’s International Foods, specializing in Greek, Italian and other Mediterranean foods, is shutting down its retail shop and focusing on its wholesale business.

The shop operated for decades in downtown Richmond at 400 W. Broad St. and became known for its made-to-order deli sandwiches.

Nick’s moved to 2413 Westwood Ave. in Henrico in 2018 to have more space and a loading dock for its wholesale business.

“It’s time,” owner Manuel Mouris said this week. “We’re ready to take a step back and make our lives easier.”

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Nick’s International Foods is closing down its retail shop to focus on its wholesale business. Nick’s, which has been around Richmond since the 1950s, was a popular sandwich shop downtown before moving to Westwood Avenue.

Mouris inherited the business from his father, Nick Mouris, a Greek immigrant who came to the U.S. after World War II with nothing and launched a business delivering produce from the backseat of his Pontiac. Originally named Nick Mourtzakis, he shortened his last name to Mouris.

Manuel Mouris, now 63, runs Nick’s with the help of his brother, Philip Mourtzakis, 74, who is a retired schoolteacher. Both sons have been working in the family business since they were young.

“My father had no qualms about picking me up off the playground and putting me to work,” Phillip said with a smile from the Westwood store. “I was 9 years old when I started working here.”

Mouris said his father opened the store in the mid-1950s on Sixth Street downtown but had to move in 1967 when the Richmond Coliseum was built. In 1978, the business was displaced for construction of a parking deck near the Sixth Street Marketplace, he said, and ultimately settled at 400 W. Broad St. The elder Mouris died in 1998.

The retail store carries a broad selection of cheeses, spices, olive oils, olives, pasta, grape leaves, spices, Greek yogurt, honey, frozen foods, wines and more.

For many years, Nick’s was the only place to get many of these Mediterranean items in Richmond. But now, Mouris said, many of the products are carried in major grocery stores like Wegman’s or Publix.

“It’s not as authentic, but it’s hard to compete,” Mouris said. “We have the Christmas and the Easter people. But it’s time to slow down.”

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Nick’s International Foods is closing down its retail shop to focus on its wholesale business. Nick’s, which has been around Richmond for 65 years, was a popular sandwich shop downtown before moving to Westwood Ave. Here, Manuel Mouris is seen in the shop in Richmond, Va. on November 7, 2022. EVA RUSSO/TIMES-DISPATCH

The wholesale business supplies olive oil, cheeses, pita bread, gyro and Mediterranean items to local Greek restaurants such as Stella’s, Perly’s, Joe’s Inn and Bell Greek, as well as restaurants in Charlottesville and Newport News.

Stella’s Market will also continue to carry many of the authentic items from Nick’s retail shop.

Mouris said that he’s looking forward to focusing on the wholesale side of the business, while his brother, Mourtzakis, will be spending more time with his family, his grandchildren and aims to travel.

Mouris said that Nick’s also relied on the help of Antonio “Tony” Wiley, 65, the famous sandwich-maker from the downtown store, who continued to work at Nick’s on Westwood in the mornings. And Mike Pafras, 68, who worked in the store in the 1970s and served as the shop’s handy/maintenance man on call for decades.

The retail shop plans to close on Nov. 26. Smart Cookie Kitchen will be leasing the retail space as a production kitchen for its baked goods, as well as a pickup location for special orders.

ccurran@timesdispatch.com

(804) 649-6151

Twitter: @collcurran

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Colleen Curran is the living editor for the Richmond Times-Dispatch. She also covers arts and entertainment, pop culture and social media.

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