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Tributes paid to founder of Nick's Diner in Deopham

PUBLISHED: 06:30 31 October 2013

Nick and Margaret Mitchell retiring from Nick's Diner at Deopham after 26 years.

Nick and Margaret Mitchell retiring from Nick's Diner at Deopham after 26 years.

©Archant Photographic 2011

Tributes have been paid to a popular restauranteur from south Norfolk who passed away from cancer.

Nick Mitchell, founder of Nick’s Diner in Deopham, died aged 68 after a battle with liver cancer.

Raised in Essex, Mr Mitchell met his wife, Margaret, at their local church when they were teenagers.

They married when Mr Mitchell was just 20 and Mrs Mitchell was 22.

After losing two babies and undergoing several years of unsuccessful private fertility treatment, the couple adopted baby Dominic when he was just nine days old.

And to their joy, they managed to conceive two children. Francesca was born in 1973 and Ben followed in 1976.

“Nick was a very good, very caring dad. It was before the time of hands-on dads,” Mrs Mitchell said.

They have four grandchildren and a fifth is due next March.

“Nick was always smiling, he was a very laid back man. My mum used to call him No Worries because that’s what he would always say when you asked him to do something.

“He was a very clever man and he was very handy. He always had a solution,” Mrs Mitchell said.

Determined to fulfil Mr Mitchell’s dream of owning a pub, the family moved to Norfolk in 1979 where they ran the Victoria Inn in Deopham for five and a half years before they converted a redundant barn into a restaurant.

After running an a la carte restaurant for a year, they revamped the menu and the interior and Nick’s Diner was born.

“He was adamant that it would work. He said we would be turning people away and he wasn’t wrong,” Mrs Mitchell said.

They ran the popular restaurant for 27 years and they retired in 2011 when they handed the keys over to Craig and Sara Armitage.

And along with their business, they also said farewell to Norfolk and they moved to their holiday home in France permanently.

Mr Mitchell’s love for the country, particularly its food and wine, was sparked after he bonded with their au pair’s father, Bernard.

“Nick and Bernard had a good rapport and we bought a place 15 years ago as a holiday home.

“It’s a very calm and peaceful life.”

Mrs Mitchell said she will continue to live in France in the “home that Nick built”.

He was diagnosed with liver cancer in 2012 and his treatment started earlier this year.

“It was primary liver cancer. The French were brilliant and I can’t fault their treatment. They were very quick and very efficient.

“It’s a really horrible disease and people need to realise how important their liver is and what it performs It gets rid of all the toxins.”

But he lost his battle on October 8 and he passed away at his home in France, with his wife by his side.

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