Owner Manuel Mouris is the son of Nick, a Greek immigrant who came to Richmond in 1955 after a stint on a Missouri farm, where he worked off the cost of the boat ride. The business started from the back of a truck, as Nick would arrive at the farmers' market early to buy produce and distribute it to retailers. Although Nick's Produce no longer distributes produce, Mouris supplies meats, cheeses and gourmet items to vendors around the city. The shop still carries a decent selection of fresh fruit and vegetables, some of it local.
According to Mouris, he buys most of the imported items in his shop directly from the distributors to reduce costs, and my mental index of feta prices seemed to confirm this. He took me behind the counter and showed me great blocks of cheese and tubs of olives lurking in cool dark refrigerators. Earlier, I overheard an employee rattling off three or four kinds of Parmesan for a customer to choose from. The customer made his choice, and a wedge of cheese was hauled to the block.
"I'll take about a third of that," the man said."Who? Third, I don't know no third. I'll cut you half," replied the cheese-master, thunking his enormous knife through the hunk. "All right, give me that small half," the patron said, but it was already being deftly wrapped and weighed with a grin.
From the outside, Nick's looks a little faded, but the inside is bright with color, sound and taste. Mouris is always there to help you choose the right wine or give advice on olive oil. Stop by for a sandwich, go home with a discovery. Angela Lehman-Rios
Nick's Produce and International Food Market
400 W. Broad St.