Lebanese Dining Favorite Nicholas Restaurant Is Moving to a New, Larger Space After 33 Years

The Southeast Madison Street building is larger, allowing diners to space out during the pandemic.

One of Portland's oldest Lebanese-Mediterranean restaurants is getting ready for a big move.

Nicholas will relocate from its long-standing flagship restaurant on Southeast Grand Avenue to 1109 SE Madison St. in 2021. The building was formerly occupied by Mad Son's Pub until 2017 and Madison's Bar & Grill prior to that.

The family-owned restaurant, known for its hot pita bread, creamy hummus and kebab plates, has been a staple of the city's culinary scene since its opening in 1987.

Original owners Nicholas and Linda Dibe fled war-torn Beirut, Lebanon, five years earlier and immigrated to Portland with their four young daughters. Nicholas then invested his entire pension in the restaurant, which first served up pizza and calzones. The couple eventually started adding some of their favorite Lebanese dishes to the menu, which were a hit.

The new location will increase the size of the dining room from 1,000 to 4,000 square feet, allowing tables to be spaced at least 6 feet apart amid the ongoing pandemic. A remodel also included the construction of cozy, private booths and mosaic-tiled walls. The patio is set to be covered and heated to provide year-round outdoor seating. Nicholas' owner, Hilda Dibe, used the change as an opportunity to install a medical-grade air filtration system to make the venue as safe as possible during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Customers can additionally expect a larger, full bar with a new list of Lebanese-inspired cocktails and mocktails.