GREGG "RAGS" RAGO
In 1978, 19-year-old “Rags” began working in the Nick’s kitchen. Minus a brief hiatus, he has been working at the legendary tavern ever since. “I love this town, and I love the people,” he says. “It’s the greatest job in the world.”
Rags currently serves as manager and part-owner of the establishment that has become his fishbowl. “I see the world through the eyes of Nick’s.” As ringmaster of a small kitchen that produces an abundant variety of food to an ever-increasing clientele, Rags continuously contemplates ways to improve the menu — even while on vacation. While mindful of preserving the tavern’s iconic traditions, he looks for new ideas each time he visits a restaurant or bar in the U.S. or abroad.
With an endless supply of Nick’s memories, Rags particularly recalls the anxiety-filled 1981 NCAA basketball championship game. Patrons had been waiting (and imbibing) patiently throughout the day for the evening tip-off. But, tragedy struck when then-President Ronald Reagan was shot during an assassination attempt. The atmosphere was tense as fans waited to hear if the
game would be played. Fortunately, the game went on as planned, the Hoosiers were victorious, and Nick’s patrons were first on the scene as Kirkwood turned into a euphoric sea of red. “By the time Nick’s closed, we were down to a single four-pack of Ballantine Ale. All’s well that ends well.”