By Louise Bolger
sun staff writer
Every couple has their own love story, but keeping that love story alive during the day to day stresses of running a business is where the real love story is told. Tim and Jenny O’Brien were Manatee High School sweethearts who with a little bit of luck and a lot of hard work became partners in one of Bradenton’s oldest and most popular restaurants.
Nicki’s West 59th Street restaurant has been in the same location for 22 years. It’s proximity to Blake Hospital, dozens of doctor’s offices and several residential communities has keep the restaurant busy for all of those years. In 1995, the O’Briens both worked at the restaurant part time while enrolled in SFU’s teaching program. When the opportunity to purchase the restaurant from the previous owner was available in June of 1999, they put their educations on hold and became entrepreneurs.
During the last eight years they have not only kept the local feel of the original restaurant, but also have improved on the Italian and Greek specialties by adding a continental flair. The 200-seat restaurant now offers hand-trimmed steaks, a variety of fresh seafood, as well as pastas and signature dishes like Fettuccini Alfredo and Carbonara prepared tableside, sometimes by Tim himself. Their menu is varied without being overwhelming, offering everything from grilled steaks and chops to mousaka and scampi.
Lunch starts at 11 a.m., and the day I was there the tables were filling up fast. Omelettes, soup, salads, burgers and hot and cold sandwiches are available as well as entrees like baked lasagna and chicken parmesan. Nicki’s also has a take out menu, does catering, can accommodate private parties in the Garden Room, and even has hosted weddings in the dining room.
Happy hour is every day starting at 11 a.m. ending at 6 p.m. During the summer, a complimentary Bananas Foster desert is given with each dinner entrée as a thank you to their local year ’round patrons. The O’Brien’s are working on a new lunch and dinner menu which promises to keep Nicki’s loyal clientele even happier.
The O’Briens thank their wonderful managers and staff for all they do every day and feel blessed and fortunate that they were in the right place at the right time to continue Nicki’s West 59th legacy.
Because of their successful restaurant, the only day the O’Brien’s have available to work on their love story are Thursdays, their day off. Erich Segal notwithstanding, Tim and Jenny can write their own "Love Story" —only this one has a happy ending.
Nicki’s West 59th
1830 59th St. W.,
Monday through Saturday: 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Sunday: 4:30 to 9 p.m.