For the last 22 years, Nicki Jones has brought positivity to Paradise—and her newest venture brings even more hope to the community.
In late June, she opened an “art wall” at Nic’s, her local Skyway-based restaurant, in conjunction with the Paradise Art Center. The wall is now home to artwork from local artists, featuring a variety of watercolors, pen-and-ink drawings, oils, and other colorful creations.
“I knew the Paradise Art Center wasn’t open to the public yet,” she said, “so I asked the president of the center: ‘what if we feature art from the members on the walls?’ She said, ‘I think that’s fantastic!’” Nearly 15 original pieces of art now span the length of the room for customers to admire. “It’s something for the whole community,” Jones said.
Jones is no stranger to bringing people together, previously running two successful businesses, Heaven Scent Candles and Bobbie’s Boutique. “When I lost my building in the fire,” she said, “I knew I would come back to Paradise. It was never a doubt.”
In January 2019, she purchased the building at the corner of Skyway and Fir. She reopened Bobbie’s Boutique in one half of the building in April 2019. Nic’s, in the other half, opened to the public as a new business in September 2019. “My vision was to have a gathering place,” she remembered.
Today, Nic’s is a place for friends to meet, eat, and connect. “I’m still excited about bringing something positive to the community. I can walk in and I see people talking to each other and laughing like old times. It makes me very happy to see that. It’s great to see people relaxing and enjoying themselves after what they’ve been through.
While an experienced businesswoman, Jones acknowledged running an eatery isn’t without its challenges. “I know nothing about the restaurant business!” she laughed. “The wisest thing to do if you want to open a company on the Ridge is to be realistic and talk to other business people. They’re helpful and honest.”
In Paradise especially, she added, “we’re all trying to bring it back. Anything that helps any of us in moving forward is good for our town.”
Jones plans to make the art wall a permanent part of the restaurant’s decor, with all paintings available for sale to the public. “They’ll change it every couple of months,” she explained. “In August, they plan to rotate in a collection of photography from local artists.” Even with the restaurant temporarily closed for dine-in, Jones hopes people can see the art for display when they come in for take-out meals and snacks.
“The reality is, I am delighted to see our town rebuilding. I love my community, and it’s very, very important to me.” For those considering a return to Ridge, Jones suggests a fresh start. “We’ve all changed because of this. Look at it like an artist—you have a blank canvas you can build on to bring back whatever it is you feel is important to you.”