Blaine restaurant owner finds passion in music, food
For Birch Bay resident and
long-time Blaine restaurant owner Nick Scianna, food is
like anything else in life – it needs passion.
“Whether it’s music, art or food, it’s all the same,” said Scianna, who owns and operates Nicki’s Diner at 1700 Peace Portal Drive and Bella Marina Italian restaurant at 825 Peace Portal Drive.
A long-time musician, exotic boot collector (including boots made from ostrich and snake), restaurateur and Ferrari enthusiast, Scianna said he wants to take a stand against the decline in the quality of restaurant food in America. It was this belief that he said prompted him to recently redesign the menu at Nicki’s to include steak hamburgers ground on-site, Albacore tuna sandwiches, hand-cut fish and chips, sauces, gravies and a glut of new salads.
“The problem is a lot of fast food franchises are hurting the business because everyone’s trying to produce a cheaper product to compete,” he said. “Our hamburgers aren’t full of bi-products so they cost a little bit more but you’re getting what you pay for.”
One item that still remains from the old menu, however, is the Super Monster Mega Burger, a whopping two pounds of ground chuck steak served open-faced with American, Swiss and Cheddar cheeses, for which there is no charge if the diner can finish the entire burger ($19.95). Scianna said since the restaurant’s opening only one man was successful in the challenge.
“A lot of people shy away from it,” he said. “But then we haven’t really pushed it either.”
Scianna grew up in the greater Vancouver area listening to Italian and classical music as well as classic rock bands such as Led Zeppelin, The Scorpions and Van Halen, which gave him what he calls a “neo-classical bass guitar style.” It was this background that helped him to play and tour with various bands such as Slaughter during the 1980s.
In 1992, after touring the United States and Europe, Scianna and his wife Gillian settled in Birch Bay to run a restaurant and continue his involvement in sound engineering and music production in the Vancouver area.
He said he learned much of his restaurant management skills watching his father Joe Scianna, who worked as a professional cook and long-time regional manager of White Spot restaurants in lower mainland B.C. It was also his father who handed down the family’s Sicilian recipes he uses at Bella Marina, which opened in 2000.
Nicki’s Diner is open 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday .and can be reached at 332-7779. Their web site is www.nickisdiner.com.
The web site for Bella Marina is www.Bella-Marina.com.