Dr. Sport: Spaghetti house holds unique place in Vancouver sports scene


Columnist Greg Douglas, a.k.a. 'Dr. Sport.'

Columnist Greg Douglas, a.k.a. 'Dr. Sport.'

Photograph by: Vancouver Sun files, .

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SCENE & HEARD: Now that Saint Nicholas has completed his goodwill tour for another year, another chap by the name of Nick springs to mind.

A visit to Nick’s Spaghetti House on Commercial Drive is a trip down memory lane. The red-and-white checkered tablecloths haven’t changed since the early 1970s. Nor have the pictures on the walls, with the exception of the occasional update on Spaghetti Mouse, Nick and Pauline Felicella’s all-time leading B.C.-bred money winner inducted earlier this month into the B.C. Horse Racing Hall of Fame.

Not a lot of Nick’s track winnings go into fixing up his restaurant. What you see is what you get and what you get is some of the finest Italian food this side of Bolzano.

There are a lot of Christmas parties at Nick’s. Year after year, the same faces surface, mostly belonging to hearty, fun-loving guys with big appetites, big midsections and big, hearty laughs.

The place was jumping one day last week at noon. Packed. At the very back of the restaurant near the washrooms where the entrances are so narrow that customers have been known to get stuck trying to get in or out, there was a group of about 40 guys in an area that could comfortably accommodate 25.

Kirk McLean, the Canucks’ goaltending great permanently acknowledged at Rogers Arena as part of the Ring of Honour legends series, was at Nick’s for his annual Christmas lunch with pals from Molson’s. McLean, now part of the Canucks’ organization in a community relations role, stopped by the table of 40 to say hello.

Many of them being long-time east end hockey fans, they were mesmerized as McLean held court. Trevor Linden should know his investment in McLean is money well spent. He is a modern-day version of Babe Pratt, the Canucks’ lovable goodwill ambassador from another era.

Across the way a group of a dozen veteran media rogues had gathered to celebrate a colleague’s 70th birthday. McLean joked that if he ate his full order of lasagna with the accompanying baskets of bread he’d start looking like he belonged at their table. Good line but cranky old media types have been known to lack a sense of humour. Nobody laughed.

Over the years Nick’s Spaghetti House has been the scene of countless memorable events involving the jock crowd. Such as the time five sports reporters went for a wine-fortified lunch and ended up on an evening flight to Calgary for the next day’s Lions-Stampeders playoff game. And the Saturday night a Canucks’ general manager threw a plateful of spaghetti into the faces of two truck drivers, season ticket holders, who were razzing him about a loss earlier in the day to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Only a quick 911 call by Nick aborted a full-on dust-up.

It’s safe to assume nothing much will change in 2015 at Nick’s place.

And that’s a good thing.


Columnist Greg Douglas, a.k.a. 'Dr. Sport.'

Columnist Greg Douglas, a.k.a. 'Dr. Sport.'

Photograph by: Vancouver Sun files, .

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