By Billie Phillips
My name is Billie E. Phillips. Thirty-five years ago, my late first wife and I, borrowed every dollar we could and spent every dime we had to open up the Bar/Restaurant, Billie’s 1890 Saloon. Like every venture into the hospitality business, it was a gamble. We were very fortunate. Through the first years it became apparent that Billie’s was becoming a special place for the community, a place for stories to be told, laughs to be had, and new memories to be made.
Since then and after my sale of Billie’s it has maintained its standing as part of the fabric of the community. Unfortunately, as most of you know, Billie’s sustained a kitchen fire and has been closed since late June. Since then, the current tenant’s lease was cancelled for reasons many people have speculated about, but most people have no true knowledge of.
Rumors have spread to the point that petitions were started to save the building from being torn down. The building will not be torn down and the bar and restaurant you have grown to love will continue on in the tradition of Billie’s 1890 Saloon for as long as I have a say in the matter.
After a brief tour of the building by the landlord, I was asked if I would be interested in leasing the property, as a new lease would not be offered to individuals of the previous corporate tenant for reasons that were explained to me. After some contemplation, I felt the reasons were understandable.
At the end of the day, I could not stand by and watch Billie’s 1890 Saloon be taken over by anyone without ties to the Port Jefferson community. In a decision that was very difficult to me because of friendships I have with people connected to Billie’s, in many capacities, my family and I have assumed control of the space used by Billie’s 1890 Saloon. It is my hope people will begin to understand this could have been the end of Billie’s as they knew it, and to some it will probably still feel this way. However, to those that are skeptical, please know my family and I will endeavor always to maintain the intangibles that make Billie’s such a special place in the hearts of so many.
Billie Phillips is the original owner of Billie’s 1890 Saloon, located on Main Street in Port Jefferson.