Nick & Pauline Felicella of Nick’s Spaghetti House Industry Pioneers

IMG_6141Everyone in the Commercial Drive area knows Nick and Pauline Felicella. They are true pioneers of the neighbourhood, their portions and hospitality are renowned for being generous. They are the 2018 BC Restaurant Hall of Fame Pioneers. Nick’s Spaghetti House, 631 Commercial Drive, was a Vancouver Institution for 62 years. With its red-and-white checkered tabletops and homey décor, the restaurant maintained its old school style over the years and was host of generations of Vancouverites. Nick opened the restaurant in 1955 as a humble coffee shop but soon became the Nick’s everyone knows. An icon of Vancouver’s early dining scene, Nick and Pauline proudly served the local community, politicians, business leaders, hockey players, racetrack fans and neighbours. Introduction by John Carlo Felicella (Nick’s Nephew) of Nick and Pauline as the recipients of the Hall of Fame Pioneers at the ceremonies at the Italian Cultural Centre. “As everyone knows, not everything goes as planned. As a matter of fact, my uncle, Nick Felicella, originally planned on becoming a policeman back in his native Naples but the lure of easily attained wealth and prosperity beckoned. Nick and his four brothers thought that money grew on trees in Canada! Rather then joining the police force, he immigrated to Canada only to discover that the promised wealth and prosperity were not quite as easily to attain as rumored back in Italy. Nevertheless, he persevered and soon after his arrival, he opened Nick’s Café where he served his guests hamburgers and what were according to his brothers, “the worst pizzas in Vancouver”. My uncle was not a trained Chef but like all good cooks he learned from his mother and was always willing to take advise and suggestions from his customers. After a couple of years, he realized that Vancouver was in dire need of an Italian Restaurant that featured the simple and delicious dishes of his homeland. Nick’s Spaghetti House was born and so popular were his dishes that few changes were made to his menu over sixty years that followed. No, money did not grow on trees in Canada but with time, relentless determination and extremely hard work, my uncle`s business succeeded. Meanwhile, he convinced his four brothers Carlo, Mario, Tony, Gaetano and eventually his sister Margherita to join him in Vancouver and while he had yet to find one of the fabled “money trees,” he convinced his siblings that opportunities abounded in Canada, and soon thereafter all five joined him in his new home.
His restaurant became the starting point for his newly immigrated family members who all, at one time or another, worked in the restaurant and slept in the back room as they established themselves in their newly adopted country. The restaurant became a favorite of diners from all walks of life. One could find politicians, athletes, lawyers, tradesmen and laborers in the dining room at the same time, all enjoying the ambiance and his bill of fare. Nick did not achieve the realization of his goals alone. His wife Pauline always played an integral roll in the restaurant`s success. The truth be known, it was Pauline that kept the whole thing together and through all the years they were and remain an amazing team.”
We celebrated Nick and Pauline at the Italian Cultural Centre 2018 Awards Gala for their lifetime of commitment to hospitality in BC and congratulate them on being inducted in the British Columbia Restaurant Hall of Fame! (Frank Cucca)

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