Let's serve up proper recognition to Belfast's culinary heroes like Nick Price
Long-established restaurant in Belfast changes hands... It's hardly the shock, horror headline of the times.
But while the closing of Nick's in Belfast Cathedral Quarter will mean well-earned retirement for the man himself and his lovely wife Kathy it marks the sad ending of an era in the history of the indomitable heart of Belfast.
Talented, passionate and fearless, Nick opened his brilliant eatery in Hill Street back in the days when Belfast nightlife was more a test of nerve than an evening's relaxation.
He brought gourmet normality to the very centre of a city which was part craving fun, part scared to go out looking for it.
He parked his business down one of the darkest, most deserted streets in the city centre, in a cobbled alleyway dominated by empty old warehouses with shuttered windows, opened his doors and let the light and warmth flood out.
They call that area the Cathedral Quarter now. People like Nick Price made it. He defied and triumphed over the troubled times and a roads department which insanely kept digging up and relaying those cobbles.
Over and over again.
It helped that Westminster ministers and visiting celebs sought out his restaurant. But Nick's with its amazing food and flowing wines wasn't about hobnobbing. It was always about real Belfast craic. The staff tolerated a bit of noise and boisterousness. The staff, those lovely, lovely people who worked there over the years – Ben, Thomas, Annie, Luke, Lesley, Kelly, Sean, Memhet, all of them – they're what made the place.
I've mentioned before that I don't understand why more isn't done here to salute the men and women of the hospitality industry who did so much to hold this place up during our darkest days.
The likes of Nick and his staff and so many others (including Paul Rankin) who served up stability during the worst of times.
They gave this old city something magical, irreplaceable. In their own positive way they've left their mark on her. Some day, somewhere further along in her history, Belfast, I think, will properly raise her glass to them.