Nick’s Bar and Grill, a landmark on the Hollywood Broadwalk for 40 years, has closed for major renovations. The owners hope to have the famed beachfront watering hole and eatery, used for scenes in numerous movies including 1981’s “Body Heat” and 2008’s “Marley and Me,” open in time for peak tourist season.
“We’re aiming for Nov. 1, three months, but you know how that goes,” co-owner Bob Ferro says. “It took us three years to get the permits from the city.”
Ferro and his brother Carl bought Nick’s in 1980 from a Canadian restaurateur and real-estate investor named Nick, who opened it two years earlier. “We decided to keep it Nick’s,” Bob says. He says the site started as a hot dog stand in the 1940s.
Nick’s has become known for its laid-back beach vibe, New England-style seafood such as lobsters and steamed clams (the Ferros are from Boston) and late-night service, with the bar open until 4 a.m.
Now, the Ferros plan to tear down and rebuild the front wooden and stone facade, redo windows, floors, walls and bathrooms, and raise the ceiling height from 10 to 14 feet. When the work is done, bathing-suit clad patrons will still be able to grab rumrunners and cold beers through open windows fronting the bar, but those windows will be roll-down and hurricane-proof.
“The wood is getting chewed up. It’s starting to deteriorate,” Ferro says. ”We don’t want people to call the place a dive.”
Ferro says at one point they toyed with the idea of knocking down the structure and rebuilding a three-story restaurant, but the time, expense and hassle involved in such a project made it unfeasible. He says they have no plan to sell. “It’s hard to believe I’ve owned this place half my life,” Ferro, 78, says.
Robert Bettencourt, Ferro’s nephew who is involved with the restaurant’s management, says the kitchen was redone a few years ago and the menu will remain the same (seafood, burgers, steaks), perhaps with a few new items.
“When we reopen, we’ll pretty much be the same Nick’s, with a spruced-up look,” Bettencourt says.