Thursday, June 30, 2011

Ode to our Nick

Here on the North Shore of Boston, every town has their Roast Beef place.
These RB places, they make a sandwich- they carve the beef right off the roast and put it, warm and juicy, onto a hamburger roll (or an ONION roll!) with your choice of toppings, and then a special barbecue sauce (or, I hear there's a horseradish sauce too).
Once you've lived on the North Shore for a while, someone will bring you to one of these places and teach you how to order. My order is "Junior, LTM Sauce, and a small fry well done." That's Lettuce, Tomato, Mayo, obviously, but these things must be ordered in haste and when you use the initials then they know you're no outsider and will not be a pain with your order. They're not like the soup Nazi, they're very patient, but it's a badge of honor to know how to order like that, and also an early sign of heart disease.
These places are not fancy, but clean and run like clockwork. They are Greek, and offer Gyros (pronounced "yeeros" I think, delicious wraps with garlic sauce like WOAH.) along with their beef as well as Greek salads with perfect creamy Greek dressing, and they're closed on Greek Easter.
At ours, Nick made the sandwiches for over 20 years and made them the BEST of anyone who worked there. He had a thick Greek accent, and a big smile, and if we would call to order, he would tell us "ok, number one!" but I am pretty sure he gave everyone the number 1 when they called. Scott had a long-running joke with him, ordering a slice of pizza every time we went there (they don't serve pizza), and he was always friendly to us, and to everyone.
We had heard that Nick was sick, some kind of cancer. Yesterday when I went in, the young man at the counter told me Nick has died. The crew there had just come from his wake, and his funeral is this morning at the Greek Orthodox church. Nick will be missed, and no one's roast beef sandwiches will ever be as good as his...

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