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Spiak, seafood entrepreneur, dies

By Jim Fair, Editor
Published on Tuesday, February 5, 2019

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Nicholas John Spiak. Jr., founded Gusto Seafood, Inc., and Sushi with Gusto, Inc.
 
 

Nicholas John Spiak. Jr., founded Gusto Seafood, Inc., and Sushi with Gusto, Inc.

 

 

A seafood visionary and titan in Greer who impacted restaurants from the Upstate to around the country died Monday.

Nicholas John Spiak. Jr., affectionately known as “Big Nick”, started Gusto Seafood, Inc., and Sushi with Gusto, Inc.

Gusto Seafood delivers seafood products brought from the coast, Boston, South Africa and New Zealand. Sushi with Gusto, Inc., is a nationwide sushi bar franchise enterprise. Grocery stores, universities, and health care food courts sell the Greer made products.

Spiak and Greenville iconic restaurateur Vince Perone shared a friendship through the food industry and college achievements. Spiak reportedly encouraged Perone, in the 1970s, to add grouper to his Italian menu. Both were awarded football scholarships at their respective colleges – Spiak at Vanderbilt and Perone at Furman. Spiak married his wife, Gladys, and their son, Nick III, was born.

Spiak’s family posted on the company’s Facebook page Tuesday morning: “We loved him. He was a Grand Man, (and) his sense of humor, kindness (and) wisdom will be much missed.”

Spiak, whose father emigrated from Ukraine, began making deliveries to about 12 customers. There are about a dozen refrigerated seafood trucks with G.U.S.T.O. on the side deliveries to almost 200 restaurants.

An anecdote on the family’s business website recalls that Spiak wanted to honor his father by making G.U.S.T.O. stand for Great Ukrainian Trucker of Seafood. Spiak’s wife, Gladys, pointed out the acronym would read GUTS. Thus the Great Ukrainian Seafood Trucking Outfit – G.U.S.T.O. – became known as the company’s brand.

Spiak founded Sushi with Gusto while visiting Hawaii in the early ‘80s. He was introduced to sushi and fell in love with it. Spiak created Sushi with Gusto in 1997 with partner and executive chef Hisamichi Fujimura (Fuji). Each chef of the independently owned sushi bar was trained by Fujimura at the company’s Greer headquarters.

Spiak enjoyed hunting and fishing and planned excursions with friends and family. He retired in 2010 with the family and Fujimura running the businesses.

The family, in the obituary, humorously claimed Spiak as the “champion of multi-generational Texas Hold’em, whereby many a grandchild was relieved of his allowance.”

 

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