The History of Pickle Bill’s
Pickle Bill’s is the brainchild of Jerry Powell. Originally founded in 1967, the name derives from W.C. Fields. The W stood for William, which was shortened to Bill. Fields’s well known fondness for alcohol is for the Pickle! At the original location in Cleveland’s Flats area, many silent films were the featured entertainment, Fields’s being among the most prominent and popular features. Fields’s silhouette is used as the restaurant logo to this day.
At the original location, the seating capacity was approximately 250 guests and featured a very limited menu in comparison to today’s restaurant. $3.00 for a pitcher of beer, $.60 beer mugs, mixed drinks for $1.00! Shrimp Cocktail sold for $1.25, prime rib was $4.50 and steaks were
$4.95! The limited menu facilitated the two-seatings of live shows that would eventually follow the silent movies. Shows such as Second City’s Traveling Company, The All Night Strut and many live local bands performed at Pickle Bill’s first location.
In 1982, Pickle Bill’s relocated to 101 River Street in Grand River. Formerly the Potted Lobster, the seating capacity was a mere 50 guests! Initially without a liquor license, spirits were enjoyed on a BYOB basis. Jerry had tried many different promotions, but the All You Can Eat was an instant hit. Originally limited to crab legs and prime rib, Pickle Bill’s currently features walleye, shrimp and even lobster as All You Can Eat choices. If you wish to mix and match, add a second All You Can Eat entree for only $9.99. Snow Crab Legs remain our top seller.
During the summer, the extra seating on the dock brings Pickle Bill’s capacity to over 400 guests. If you wish to literally eat on the water, visit our carousel-style barge which floats on the river during the summer months. A must-see attraction, Jerry summed it all up one day when he remarked, “If I saw that, I couldn’t pass it up!”
In addition to the barge and docks, a Tiki Bar was added upstairs and features actual swings instead of barstools!
The restaurant business is one of the toughest businesses of all. In order to be successful, a restaurant needs three things: great food, great service and great atmosphere. Pickle Bill’s has excelled in all three areas for over four decades.