Nick Tahou's, home of the garbage plate, hits hard times |

Nick Tahou's, home of the garbage plate, hits hard times

Emily Putnam
Updated: February 12, 2021 10:07 PM
Created: February 12, 2021 06:50 PM

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — The restaurant responsible for creating Rochester's famous garbage plate is facing tough times.

Nick Tahou Hots on West Main Street in downtown Rochester has been a beloved local institution for more than a century, but as we approach one year of the pandemic, its future is uncertain. 

Owner Alex Tahou, who took over the operation of the restaurant when his father, Nick, passed away in 1997, believes the problem is that there are fewer people working downtown than there were before the pandemic. 

"There isn't anybody downtown anymore," Tahou said. "You walk down the street or drive down the street, the parking lots that normally had 50, 60 cars in overflow, have 5, 6, 10 cars at the most. It's really sad."

Large lunchtime orders from downtown corporate offices were Tahou's bread and butter before the pandemic. Now, Tahou and his staff mostly see smaller, single orders.

"Our orders have gone to smaller orders, and it's more time consuming to do the smaller orders obviously, but thank God we have them," Tahou said. 

News10NBC visited Nick Tahou's right before lunchtime, and there were about five customers there. Tahou says that's pretty common now. Before the pandemic, the restaurant would serve between 300 and 400 customers per day with a lot of business coming from sporting events and other events downtown. Now, on a good day, it will serve about 150 customers, about a 40% decrease in business over the last year. 

Tahou said he's maybe received two employment inquiries over the past year. With a light staff, Tahou has picked up extra hours. 

"I'm working more hours than I was before," Tahou said. "I'm not getting any younger. I hoped to be retired by now, never mind working more."

When asked how long the restaurant has left before having to close, Tahou said, "I don't know. I have a dollar number in mind, where if it gets to that point, we'd have to consider shutting down temporarily at least."

To be clear, Nick Tahou's has not announced any plans to close, but at this point selling the business is not out of the question. 

"Quite honestly if somebody comes in tomorrow and wants to buy the building, I think we'd entertain any offers," Tahou said.

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