The place couldn’t have been open for more than 20 minutes before I walked through the front door yet most of the seats at the bar were already taken except for one near the end. I quickly bellied up to the bar and was immediately greeted by two couples and the bartender as if they had been waiting the whole time for me to show up and chat over a beer or two. I felt like Norm from Cheers as I ordered a Yuengling. (For some reason it was poured into a Guinness glass.)
Billy’s Tap Room and Grill started out as a Tea Room on the property of the Ormond Beach Hotel where Billy MacDonald managed it in 1922. In 1926, Billy purchased the current location on East Granada Boulevard, opening it as a drug store, soda shop, and restaurant. For the first years, Billy’s sold fruits, jellies, newspapers, sandwiches, and random gifts. During Prohibition, however, more than just trinkets and snacks may have passed through the place. There were rumors of homemade beer and slot machines in the back room reached only through the locked swinging doors released by a button behind the bar.
I must have been the only non-biker that afternoon. Everyone else wore sunburns and raccoon eyes like badges of honor from Daytona Bike Week; each of them telling stories over whiskey ordered neat and frothy pints of beer as a local musician strummed his guitar by the corner window. Frank and Linda were from outside of Green Bay and in town on vacation for a month. They talked about retirement and traveling around the country in an RV while I talked about music, travel writing, and photography. Mike sat to my right and mentioned he was from Chicago. He was a “Northsider” and Cubs fan so we talked baseball and whether our beloved Cubbies could potentially win another big one, talking louder by second as we relived each memorable moment from the first.
Billy’s combines an old-school East Coast look with a laid-back beach life vibe and is only a couple minute walk from the beach. They offer a full bar and a tremendous menu with everything from Surf and Turf and Jumbo Lump Crab Cakes to a tasty looking Shrimp Scampi Pasta and a 1 1/2 pound Live Lobster served steamed, baked, or even baked stuffed with their house-made crabmeat stuffing.
Like other stops along Grenada, there isn’t a large neon sign directing your eyes where to look and you could easily miss Billy’s altogether. Here only a simple pub sign hangs high above the front door, but inside, just like other gems I found during the week, is a unique, history-laden restaurant that you must visit.