Nicks Cafe shutting down after 36-year run in Lakewood as proprietors retire.

Elvis is about to leave the building, err, the cafe. Nick’s Cafe in Lakewood that is.

After 36 years at the same Simms Street location, Nick Andurlakis and his wife, Kathleen, will soon be turning off the lights and shutting down their kitchen for good. The couple is retiring from the restaurant, and March 10 will be the last day.

Nick Andurlakis is known for serving Elvis Presley a Fool’s Gold sandwich in Denver in 1976. He met Presley at the Colorado Mine Company, where Andurlakis worked in his youth.

“So I said, ‘Hello Mr. Presley,’ and he said, ‘Call me Elvis,’ “ Andurlakis told The Denver Post in 2014. The King asked the young cook what he recommended and Andurlakis suggested the Fool’s Gold sandwich — bacon on a French loaf of bread layered with peanut butter and jelly.

Elvis loved the culinary concoction and Andurlakis has been making them ever since.

Nick’s Cafe serves breakfast and lunch, dine in or carry out, Monday through Saturday. A Greek-American establishment the menu features Greek sandwiches and salads, along with burgers and Mexican fare.

The King died on Aug. 16, 1977. The lore of Fool’s Gold lives on and images and memorabilia of Presley, including records, photographs, posters, lunchboxes, and guitars, fill the small room that is Nick’s Cafe.

Much of the memorabilia are gifts, which satisfied customers and friends gave to the Andurlakis. Some are items that the couple procured on their own. Photographs of Elvis tribute artists hamming it up with the couple are part of the kitsch. There are Presley family photos, including Priscilla and Lisa Marie. There’s a photo of the smiling couple with Lisa Marie Presley between them.

The History Colorado Center, 1200 Broadway, Denver, is procuring most of the cafe’s display memorabilia and will give the collection a new home and opportunity for the public to enjoy.

“It is a really cute collection, and I love the story behind it,” said Rachael Storm, an oral history curator with HCC.

“It is one of those dying out mom-and-pop places,” Storm said. “We (HCC) took some photographs of the table where Nick proposed to her.”

The couple met at the cafe, were engaged at the cafe, and worked side by side at the long-running establishment. They’ve been married for 13 years.

In retirement, Nick Andurlakis said he plans to relax, hang out, and perhaps do a few things he hasn’t done in a while, without going into detail.

“I’m glad we’re getting out, but it’s been a good go,” Andurlakis said. “I’m feeling pretty good.”

Although the Elvis memorabilia brought in many a curious customer, the cafe’s food — fast, inexpensive and hearty — and the Andurlakises themselves brought clients back time and time again.

Sue Druschke lives and works in the neighborhood. She’s been a customer for 16 years and considers the business owning couple part of her family and the cafe a home away from home.

“They are like my brother and sister,” Druschke said.

Whenever Druschke family members visit from out of town she brings them to the intimate cafe, which seats about 30. A niece, a transplant who has moved to the metro area, celebrated her wedding at Nick’s. “They’re just incredible people,” she said of the Andurlakis.

Like many other restaurateurs, the pandemic, precisely the change and effect the pandemic brought on the business, was part of the factor in deciding to bring the cafe to an end, Kathleen Andurlakis said.

“Before the pandemic the restaurant business was fun, now it’s just a daily chore,” she said.

Still, the cafe partners both said that they’ll miss their customers above all else.

“That’s going to be the hardest part, parting with the people we’ve got to know for so many years,” Kathleen Andurlakis said. “Over the years we’ve had customers become friends, we’ve watched couples become families and we’ve watched families grow. That sums up Nick’s Cafe.”

Ram Randolph, who lives in Cascade but often visits a nearby Lakewood office for work, has been going to Nick’s for a dozen years.

“They are great people, they love their customers and their customers love them,” Randolph said, his eyes welling up on what was likely his last visit to the place. “They are going to be extremely missed.”

The Andurlakises split the cooking at home, about 50-50. Nick Andurlakis said he’ll likely make Fool’s Gold in the future, he thinks he’ll get requests from friends for the sandwich. He, however, does not partake.

“I can’t eat peanut butter,” he said. “I’m allergic to peanut butter.”

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