“Big” Nick Harden is a familiar face to Valdosta and the surrounding areas, and if you know anything about Valdosta radio then you know that catchy slogan of “Big Nick Doin’ Big Things” on 107.9. You constantly hear Big Nick advertising on the radio for the local events such as new clothing stores openings, upcoming parties, restaurant promotions, back to school drives, and more. He is man that stands by his community and his family. Two years ago Big Nick had a dream of opening up another restaurant here in his community after his restaurant, Rhythm and Blues Café downtown, closed. He said, “People would still call, text, and inbox me for requests for me and my wife to cater events.” After so many requests, he knew that it was time to open up another restaurant. “I was driving down Baytree and saw the building available and thought that would be perfect,” Big Nick said. The kitchen was not remotely foreign to him due to him growing up in his family’s kitchen and when allowed watching and helping them cook.
Big Nick’s restaurant is located on Baytree Road, which some consider to be the “heart” of Valdosta. On this road, you have constant traffic for potential consumers, and it is also reachable by foot for those hungry college students who may not have transportation at their fingertips. He is also a fan of hiring young adults which keeps the scene young and inviting. “I have staff that has been with me for years now that are like family too,” said Big Nick. At Big Nick’s you will find barbeque, soulfood, and wings. These are all delicious choices that will have you coming back for more. “My father is from Mississippi, and he cooked from scratch,” Big Nick explained. “He had all kinds of good stuff, and he could do everything. I kinda got that passion to cook.”
People love the atmosphere that Big Nick’s provides because he often has local bands playing and even hosts a karaoke night throughout the week. This is especially enjoyed by the college students during the semesters. It allows them to have a relaxing environment while also having fun. Big Nick’s famous wing sauces, red velvet cake, and friendly service are constantly talked about around town. This is a family-run establishment, and that is exactly who you will find back there in the kitchen cooking: Big Nick’s family. If you were to take a peek in the kitchen, you would find Nick, his wife, his mother Louise, who is, according to Nick, “Cranking out some family recipes,” his mother-in-law Diane, and his father-in-law Edward. “It’s really, truly a family affair,” Big Nick said with a smile. “It’s everybody in here, we try to put some love in it, and we make it work.” He enjoys constantly being around his family cooking away, and it brings him back to his childhood when he would watch and help his family cook.
Prices are affordable and you definitely get enough food. On the menu you will find barbeque, shrimp, chicken, sausage, pulled pork, macaroni and cheese, collard greens, dirty rice, green beans, gator tail, ox tails and rice, pork chops, and so much more. You will never leave Big Nick’s restaurant hungry because there is something for everyone on the menu. Drink specials are great for those evenings with the girls or after a long day at the office. This is makes for an amazing happy hour when combined with his famous Ciroc wings or his lemon-pepper twist wings. His goal for his restaurant is “to be that place in the community that you’ve gotta stop by, and where you know you can get some real good food.”
He also mentioned that it is a transition going from the radio station to the kitchen.
“I have a strong support system,” Big Nick said. “It’s not easy but we make it happen. It’s kind of weird, but it’s a cool weirdness. I went from rocking the ones and twos to burning on a four- and six-top stove.”
You could say that he makes it work, but there is no doubt that he loves what he does.
“I especially love my family,” Bick Nick fondly stated. “I have a family restaurant that truly involves my family. Music is a big part of the restaurant too so that makes sense for the radio. It just works!”
Written by: Hillary D. Griffin
Photography by: Emmanuel Magbanua