Saturday, April 28, 2018

Nichols Restaurant

In 1923 Frank Truitt and Howard B. Nichols bought Moraine’s Restaurant in Delmar.  Frank Truitt had worked at the Delmar Post office for several years and Howard Nichols had been working at Arthur Brewington’s automobile dealership.   Howard Nichols was 20 years old at the time. 
above 1925

The restaurant was a 24 hour operation since the trains rolled through town 24 hours a day. With a 24 hour restaurant come disturbances from fights to robberies. 

above from the Democratic Messenger April 14 1938

The Blue Laws in Delaware like other states at the time, had strict laws governing Sunday trade.  Retail operation would stay closed on Sunday besides the obvious ones that sold strictly luxuries such as candy stores and cigars stores and certainly liquor stores, but also Gasoline stations, bakeries, dairies, hotels, restaurants, drug stores, and roadside markets were to be closed.  You were expected to go to church and spent the day with your family.  Amusements such as baseball, football, basketball, tennis, and golf were prohibited. It was felt that restraint is necessary in a society.  In 1941 the dislike for the blue laws in Delaware came to a head and the government felt the best way to get rid of an unpopular law is to enforce it, so state troopers started writing citations for anyone open for business in Sunday.  In 1941 they hit Delmar, Delaware and wrote up five filling stations and Nichols restaurant for being opened on Sunday.  Howard Nichols was taken to court where he paid his $50 fine (in today’s money this would be about $800).

The Truitt and Nichols restaurant changed locations a number of times.  Mostly facing Railroad avenue or State Street, but at one time it was a tea house over on Chestnut Street. 

In addition to the Blue laws restricting him, in 1943 in spite of overwhelming railroad customer traffic from the war effort the restaurant had to cut back from 24 hour operation to 6am to 10 pm because they could not find people to work at the restaurant.  The restaurant was located across from the railroad station.

A restaurant is probably one of the larger employer of people in a small town .  Due to the turn over of waitresses and clean-up people many people over the life of a restaurant work at them.   Nichol’s Restaurant employed many people over it’s life.

Unable to locate a photo of the restaurant this photo shows the top of restaurant over the top of the car. At least that much is available. The photo is from Barbara O'Neal and the two women are Erma Smith and Elizabeth.  The restaurant appears to be a one story building

This is a more recent photo shot from close to the same location 

A restaurant is more than a place to eat, it is a place for civic clubs and organizations to meet and hold banquets, Christmas parties, retirement parties, wedding receptions, and meetings.  Nichols restaurant was very popular for that

In 1946 the old building was torn down and a new building erected.  The new building would have a meeting place for civic clubs on the second floor.   I have no idea why but perhaps just due to a cut back in railroad traffic or he overextended him self remodeling or ill health but in 1950 Howard Nichols lost the restaurant at a sheriff’s sale.

Howard Beauchamp Nichols would pass away in 1970.  He was born in 1903 to Ernest and Annie Beauchamp Nichols .  He would marry Mildred E. Johnson, daughter of Ollie and Clara Johnson.  They would have four children; Clara Ann ( Ring), Howard Johnson., Richard Lee, and Fred Beauchamp.   He would finish up his working career as a cook at Stokley Mentally Retarded Hospital.

I have been unable to track Frank Truitt, his partner for many years in the restaurant, as there are just too many Frank Truitts to determine the correct one.

In 1950 Hollis Wright of Wright’s grill has taken over management of Nichol’s restaurant,  Nichols had recently been bought by Frank Collins at the Sheriff’s sale.   Wrights Grill was at the corner of Grove and Railroad.  The restaurant is now called The Delmar restaurant and Mrs Dorothy Wright is operating the business.  By 1951 the Delmar restaurant closes and the operators Mr and Mrs Wright do not give a reason.  They continue to run Wrights Grill.
The downtown in 1950 with remodeled restaurant

The building in 1951 became the Avenue restaurant owned by Claude E. Bennett, managed by Robert Lee Alford and it had on the second floor the Tropic night Club. 

The second floor was changed to an apartment in the 1960s and the restaurant became a bar bearing a number of names over the next 50 years from Tim's Bar and Restaurant,

above 1975
In 1981 it became Red Dogs owned by Edward and Peggy Downes

Today It is the Sports Nut Restaurant and Pub 

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