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Scene in Manchester: The art of shoe repair lives on on Elm Street

Special to The New Hampshire Union Leader

January 06. 2013 10:41PM

I don't have any shoes that need repairing, but I may break a heel just to visit Fouad Nakkoul, proprietor of Heel the Sole Shoe Repair on Elm Street.

I chatted with Nakkoul on the phone last week after a tip about his pleasant demeanor and excellent service from Audra Burns of the American Heart Association.

Burns said Nakkoul likely generates all the business he needs from the notorious sidewalks of Elm Street. But his clever business name and my concern for the disappearing art of shoe repair led me to give him a call.

Nakkoul said he opened Heel the Sole in October after selling his previous shoe repair shop with its equally clever name, Completely Heeled, in Salem. He came up with the new name with help from his wife and three grown daughters, of whom he sounds very proud.

But Nakkoul hasn't always repaired shoes. Before moving to the U.S. From Syria in 1983, he said he studied and worked as a civil engineer. Unable to speak English, he took jobs here in a bakery, as a delivery driver, and then opened his own trucking business. Nakkoul said he is a quick study and can learn to do anything, so when he decided he was too old to be working outside in the cold New England weather, he endeavored to learn how to repair shoes from his wife's uncle.

At Heel the Sole, Nakkoul repairs any kind of shoe as well as handbags, zippers and luggage. He also sells shoes and shoe-related items, and stretches shoes. As someone whose feet have grown a whole size in my old age, I can certainly understand the need for that last service.

He said his space next to Margarita's downtown is gorgeous. "You take your drink and I fix your shoes right away," he offered. And although he usually works alone, he said his wife often comes in to help and give him a hard time.

Burns said it cost her $30 to have her shoes refurbished and looking like new, which she pointed out is cheaper than buying a new pair and better for the environment. I agree. Heel the Sole is open Tuesday through Saturday. And for those of you looking for shoe repair on the West Side I have also heard great things about Rivtin's Shoe Repair on Kelley Street.

Lucky charms are not an Irish breakfast

The major holiday season has come to a close, but as we enter the long, bitter months of winter we do have much to look forward to - like Saint Patrick's Day. Sure, Manchester's parade celebrating our Irish heritage is always a little later than the actual holiday (this year it's on Sunday, March 24). But, our parade also lets us celebrate early with a Saint Patrick's Day Benefit Breakfast fundraiser this Saturday.

The parade costs $50,000 to produce each year, and every penny is raised through private donations. If you enjoy attending the parade, then be sure to do your part by attending the breakfast from 8 to 11 a.m. at The Wild Rover on Kosciuszko Street.

Adults eat for $9.99 and kids 12 and under eat for $5.99. Children under 5 eat for free.

I really like the posters designed to advertise the breakfast. The collection features photos of Irish-related items such as a potato, Lucky Charms and a bottle of whisky. Underneath it reads, "This is not an Irish breakfast. See what an Irish breakfast really is on Saturday, January 12th."

If you can't make the breakfast but would like to make a donation of any size, please send it to: St. Patrick's Parade Committee, P.O. Box 5051, Manchester, NH 03108.

Parlez-vous Francais?

I took French for at least four years and I don't even know if I phrased the above question appropriately. The only thing I remember about the French language is that an accent grave should point toward the windows in my Hillside Junior High School French classroom. Monsieur Boivin said we could remember this because if we jumped out the window, we would go to our grave.

I wonder if they use nifty mnemonic devices at the Franco-American Centre. The organization begins holding winter session French classes for children and adults starting this month. Classes are held at The Dana Center at Saint Anselm College. They run through February and are $100 for children and $250 for adults.

There are classes for all levels, from Absolute Beginner to Advanced French Grammar and Conversation. I really don't know where I would fall on the spectrum, but I think it's all starting to come back to me. I'm already remembering how to ask where the bibliotheque is.

For more information on the Franco-American Centre's French classes and other cultural programs, visit

NH365.ORG Event of the Week

As a good friend of mine recently said, "I used to be cultured." Now she's more interested in the "Real Housewives of New Jersey" than Greek philosophy. I do blame television for dumbing down our society, but Dr. Julianne Cooper at Liberty Harbor Academy is providing an opportunity to get in touch with our brains again at a seminar called "What's So Great About Plato: A Seminar for the Curious."

The four-week seminar starts tonight at 6 p.m. It will examine the life and work of Plato, the student of Socrates, whose ideas permeate virtually every aspect of our world - even the latest television shows.

The event description reads, "Knowing and understanding the role played by Plato and his students will offer the seminar attendees valuable tools for maneuvering the complexities of today's world." Well, I am certain Plato has provided more tools than Snookie ever will. The cost of the seminar is $99 and registration is required. For more information on this and other events to get you "cultured," visit

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