ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — When his firm isn’t busy working on national security cases, including cases linked to the January 6th Capitol riots, high-powered lawyer and University of Rochester alumnus Mark Zaid has been filling his Twitter feed with posts about his favorite restaurants, including Nick Tahou Hots.
Last week, local landmark and late-night eats destination was officially up for sale.
The building that houses Nick Tahou’s on Main Street in Rochester, home of the original garbage plate, is listed for sale online for $975,000. Alex Tahou says that the property is listed by Towpath Homes, and is owned by David Vanderlinde.
The building itself is a former railroad station, but has been the home of Tahou’s for generations in Rochester.
“There’s no succession plan with family members, so when you have that — god forbid something happened to me tomorrow — what would everybody do?” owner Alex Tahou said. “So you have to look to the future, and that’s the main reason. I know I can’t do this forever.”
Before that, the restaurant had said that they were in financial straits during the orange zone restrictions in place in late 2020.
“Incredibly sad and disappointed,” Zaid said, describing his reaction to hearing that his favorite restaurant was in financial difficulty. “Certainly not surprised because everywhere in the United States, we were seeing restaurants suffer greatly.
“Nick’s has been around for over a century dating back to world war one and how sad it is to see that having gone through multiple wars, and recessions that now it is COVID that is causing the greatest difficulty,” Zaid continued.
Zaid said his love for Nick Tahou’s runs deep, all the way back to his “pre-frosh” days at UR, when the restaurant featured prominently in many stops with him and his friends.
Then, when he founded the Sigma Phi Epsilon chapter in 1985, he started a Nick Tahou’s charity run that still continues to this day. Fraternity members run a mile, eat a garbage plate, then run another mile. All proceeds to go charity.
His love has even extended into adulthood; pre-COVID he would often find himself in Rochester, and swing by to get a plate (“cheeseburger, Mac salad, extra Mac, if I can get it and no mustard, I’m a ketchup guy,” he says). He even “peppered” the restaurant so much that he has wrangled a shipment of multiple plates at one point.
Now, Zaid is now trying to give back to help his favorite Rochester joint. He has started a GoFundMe for the restaurant, while working with the restaurant on the fundraiser.
“Nick and Alex, understandably did not want just a perception of charity,” Zaid said. “What we’re doing is actually buying the plates for our essential workers in Rochester, the fire department, EMS police department, hospital workers.”
Zaid said he is trying everything he can to get everyone to buy a plate, from PGA Tour members who have been there, Senator Schumer’s office, and he’s even trying to set up a plate eating competition between UR’s president and RIT’s president.
Needless to say, Zaid’s passion runs deep personally, but he also wanted to emphasize why the plate is important to Rochester.
“The thing actually gives me energy,” he said. “And the reality is that that the garbage plate is such a historical part of Rochester. It is not only rich in history, but it is rich in nourishment and all sorts of energy.
“With the great industries that we’ve had in Rochester over the years, Kodak and Bausch and Lomb and Xerox, and the Red Wings… You know, I can’t help, but just do anything I can for Nick Tahou’s and keeping the garbage plate alive.”
A statement from Nick Tahou Hots Tuesday:
“We are grateful that Mark Zaid has established a way to not only help Nick Tahou Hots, but to also benefit essential emergency workers: Firefighters, police officers, EMS and other medical personnel who truly deserve recognition will be rewarded.”