Warm tributes have been paid to former Eastbourne restaurant owner Antonis Nicola, known as Nicky, who passed away last month.
Nicky, a Greek Cypriot who had lived in Eastbourne since the 1950s, was a colourful character and hugely popular among his regular customers at the Terminus Road steak house and after his retirement in 2004.
He passed away aged 88.
His wife Carol and daughters Emma and Charlotte said, “We are so proud of his many personal achievements and will treasure every memory of his kindness, generosity and his stories of Cyprus.
“His exuberant character will be much missed by his family, friends, his customers at the Taurus and everyone who knew him.”
Nicky was born in a small rural village near Larnaca in Cyprus and moved to the UK in 1950 where he landed a job at the Ivy in London.
He moved to Eastbourne to take up a job at the Queen’s Hotel – where he met Carol who was a trainee receptionist – and spent 10 years saving money to buy his own restaurant, The Regency restaurant and upstairs coffee lounge in Terminus Road.
He married Carol at Holy Trinity Church in 1962 and in 1965 opened the Taurus.
He also bought the building next to The Regency and it became the Esmeralda, an eatery with dancing and cabaret acts that played host to top singers and performers from London.
The grandfather of four went on to sell the Esmeralda to Mr Hau, who opened it as a Chinese restaurant, and eventually retired at the age of 75 after 44 years at the Taurus.
He said after he retired, “I miss the restaurant, I miss the staff and I miss all my customers.
“When I was there, I always thought I was among friends.
“It was a booming business when I first started. The tourist trade was fantastic and we quickly built up a reputation the locals.
“There were fewer supermarkets and less ready made foods which I think helped our trade and back then the only food you could get in a pub was a bag of crisps.”
“I haven’t regretted a single day and Eastbourne has given me and my family some great years.”
A traditional Greek service will take place on Thursday May 10 at noon at the Greek Orthodox Church of St Panteleimon and St Theodoros at 30 Cavendish Place followed by a private family burial.
Nicky’s family has asked that instead of flowers, people can donate to either to the Greek Orthodox Church or the Pevensey Day Unit via Payne and Son in Seaside.