The History of Pickle Bill's
The name Pickle Bill's was derived in the mind of a thirty year old man named Gerald Gibson Powell back in 1967. W.C.Fields, the famous actor of the 1930's black and white movie era, was a favorite of Jerry's. Field's first name, William, was shortened to Bill, and due to the fact that his movie character was always "pickled", the "Pickle Bill's" name was created. This is the reason why the silhouette of Fields is used as our company logo.
These same movies were shown throughout the evening at Pickle Bill's first location on Old River Road in the Cleveland flats. The restaurant's seating capacity was approximately 250 guests. It's 11 year existence had a very limited menu, in comparison with today's. Prices ranged from $3.00 pitchers of beer, $.60 beer mugs, and mixed drinks at $1.00. A shrimp cocktail was $1.25, a cut of prime rib was $4.50, and a select steak at $4.95. A copy of the original menu can be found permanently laminated on one of the tables in the "Fireplace Room."
In 1982, Pickle Bill's relocated to River Street in Grand River. The former proprietor that owned the building called his restaurant "The Potted Lobster". The seating capacity was approximately 50 guests. No liquor license was retained, so liquor and beer were on a B.Y.O.B. basis, but the ice and the mixes were supplied. It was at this time the "Home of the ALL YOU CAN EATS" was born. The menu consisted of only two "All You Can Eat" items, prime rib and crab legs.
The Pilot House addition was the original pilot house of a 1912 freight ship called the Austin, that once charted the Great Lakes. A picture of the Austin is proudly displayed at the current location.
Our most famous and most requested addition is our Dock. Overlooking the boat docks and river, this year round room increased our seating capacity to over 400 guests.
Although these many restaurant changes were taking place, Jerry took a dock seat and stared into a vast and empty river. Viewing it as a terrible waste of space, he designed our famous floating bar known as The Barge. The original designers planned it to be rectangular, yet after Jerry's endless doodling, and unique concept of "Drinking in the Round," our carousel-like bar came to be.
The same waste of space thinking, also led him to conceive our Roof bar, and our Cantina bar. With all these additions, it is hard to say how many guests this landmark will hold.
On December 21, 1998, just after 7:00am, a fire broke out in an undetermined location of the building. The fire was reported by an employee of a neighboring business who saw 30 foot flames shooting out of the wood structure. Sixteen separate fire departments were called to battle the blaze. They fought the fire for over six hours , but to no avail, The old Pickle Bill's was a total loss. Although the fire was devastating, Jerry would not let Pickle Bill's die. The new restaurant opened January 24, 2000.