Bill and Sabra Nickas – Our Story
Our restaurant, from concept to execution, was born out of the relationship between me and my wife. After finishing our prospective college careers, Sabra and I met at Johnson and Wales University where we were both pursuing our true passion in the culinary arts. Upon completion at Johnson and Wales, we began an internship at Primo Restaurant in Hilton Head. We then took our combined experience to Columbia, SC, where I served as Manager and Catering Director at Devine Foods. Sabra refined her skills as the Pastry Chef to both Saluda’s Restaurant and Hannah Jane’s Restaurant. During this time, our passion and interest in the restaurant field truly flourished and we dreamed of the day we would open our own establishment.
This dream came true in February 1999 when we opened the doors to Sullivan’s Metropolitan Grill. We had an untested concept in Anderson, a small staff and the burning desire to see the restaurant grow. Sabra served as our pastry chef and I fulfilled the role of executive chef, all while we both took on the myriad other duties that inevitably crop up in the restaurant business. We knew from the outset that our staff would be one of the most vital pieces of the puzzle, so we have developed the strongest wait staff in Anderson, possibly the state. Many staff members have been with us for years, not months, which is a true testament to our business considering the high turnover rate in the restaurant industry. Despite the strength and longevity of our staff, Sabra and I continue to play a hands-on role in the day-to-day operation of our restaurant.
Many questioned our decision to bring a high-class environment with a fine dining menu to downtown Anderson, but we stayed true to our vision and our success has surpassed even our expectations. On July 11, 2001, The Wall Street Journal featured Sullivan’s Metropolitan Grill on its front page in a glowing editorial. This coverage was a true breakthrough for our restaurant; we’ve always relied on good word of mouth, but this article brought us clientele from as far away as Asia.
Thankfully, the accolades have not stopped there. We are continually listed in the Fodor’s Restaurant Guide and have received the Wine Spectator Award of Excellence and Triple Diamond Ratings for many consecutive years. “South Carolina Magazine” has featured Sullivan’s in its pages, while “Southern Living Magazine” has featured our combination of cuisine, atmosphere and service on two separate occasions. Sabra and I are planning several contributions to South Carolina cook books in order to share some of the secrets we’ve learned over the years.
Since we opened our doors in February 1999, Sabra and I have watched Sullivan’s develop into an upscale, full-service restaurant, but we never expected to start this journey without hitting bumps in the road. In 2009, at the height of the global economic crisis, we had to close our restaurant for six weeks. By the grace of God, a couple that has continued to champion local Anderson business bought the property, which freed up the capital required for us to reopen Sullivan’s.
In 2010, as we were just getting our business back on its feet, any husband and father’s greatest fear was brought to life for me. Sabra was diagnosed with breast cancer and suddenly our entire world, both personal and professional, seemed to hang in the balance. Throughout months of chemotherapy, Sabra somehow continued to juggle her roles as wife, mother and, of course, chef. Desserts were still baked while kids and a husband were still put in their place. Our staff and our local community supported us more than ever and thanks to our faith in Jesus Christ I am happy to say she is currently in remission.
Now that our economy is on steadier ground and gaining steam, our restaurant is thriving more than ever. We truly feel the best is yet to come. We welcome you to come enjoy our atmosphere, our cuisine and our family. We hope you can join in the next chapter of our story.
William G. Nickas
-Owner and Executive Chef