Written by Edward Rella, Staff Writer
Many know Nick Harden, 35, simply as the owner of Big Nick’s, a lively soul-food restaurant located on Baytree Road.
He is also the radio host of 109.7 The Beat here in Valdosta.
When you first meet Harden, you might first notice his Southern-tinged accent or his large generous smile, but there is much more than meets the eye for this businessman.
Nick Harden was born in Detroit, Illinois and lived with both of his parents for years before his late father passed away. He then moved to East Atlanta to Decatur where he graduated high school and played football at Southwest DeKalb High School.
“I was surrounded by some really good family members and some really good people and, you know, made it out,” Harden said. It was a very crucial factor of making him who is today.
He expanded his thoughts and said “… even though we stayed in areas that weren’t the best, I always knew to advance that, and that didn’t make me.”
Harden has a very positive mindset. He aims to better himself almost every day and to help and to give back to others as much as he can. “I love him, he has a heart of gold and just loves people, loves to help them and he’s a great leader,” said Ruby Riesinger, the Director of Sales at Black Crow Media who has known Big Nick for many years.
“I always like to entertain folks,” Harden said. “I remember in high school, I used to host these parties and everyone in Decatur that was my age would come through and promote it.” At a young age, Harden knew he would be an entertainer. Throughout high school he threw many parties at clubs like Shyran’s Showcase in Atlanta
“We probably had like 500 kids come, we had DJ’s, and Tight to Death, a dance crew, battling P-Funk and everyone was going crazy,” Harden said, remembering his younger days. “It was just fun.”
Throughout high school, Harden was a football player, and announcer/DJ for his high school’s basketball team.
Harden began attending VSU on a football scholarship for childhood education after being scouted but sustained injuries early in the season, benching him. Despite being unable to play, Harden could show his Blazer Nation pride by recording football games and practices while still hosting entertainment when possible.
Throughout his college career, Harden still hosted a variety of parties in the nightclubs throughout Valdosta, furthering his involvement in the entertainment scene.
Eventually, Harden changed his major from childhood education to business administration; this helped solidify Harden’s legacy as a successful business owner.
After becoming a VSU alumnus, Harden stayed close to what he knew. “I never liked working for someone, I liked being in control of what was happening,” Harden said. This was one of the things that contributed to the opening of Big Nick’s.
“My father was a big business owner; he was involved in everything, pretty much. I saw how it was to run them firsthand,” He said. Even at a young age, Harden knew how he would live his life and sees himself as an extension of his father’s legacy.
Harden also contributed to Toyz-in-da-Hood, which helped get over 800 toys into homes that couldn’t afford them for Christmas. “It felt great, the boxes of toys just never stopped coming and it was a great success. Every time I turned around, another box was right there,” he said.
Harden continues with his community centered lifestyle today by teaming with a fellow radio station to give away scholarships, as well as giving VSU students a chance to intern at 107.9 The Beat.
“Interns are important, they help with the work flow around here and some of them continue to get a full-time position at the station,” Harden said. If anyone is interested, just check online,” he said.