Billy’s Closes

As reported today in the Charleston Daily Mail, Billy’s Restaurant located near Southridge Center is closing, effective today.

Read the full story here.

This turn of events is somewhat surprising, given the positive feedback received here at Fork You and from our own reviewers. Click here to read our recent review of Billy’s.

Ron may go into full mourning over the loss of those fabulous mashed potatoes.

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19 responses to “Billy’s Closes

  1. strange that it happened that quickly, but i have to say that you guys are the only people i ran into in charly-west who had a positive review of the place.

  2. demosthenes.or.locke

    I heard several other negative reviews/opinions, but when I went there the food was good, not great. You have to judge the place for what it is, a competitor to bob evans or applebees. As a “country cookin” place, it was great.

    It was also busy whenever I was there, but I guess not busy enough.

  3. Yes, it’s sad that Bill couldn’t make it up there next to all those wonderful chain restaurants.
    I was amazed when I first went to Billy’s and saw what he had done right out of the gate. He didn’t hold back.
    Maybe he should have found a smaller less expensive venue, but really, if shit holes like Applebees, Quakersteak and goo and all the other chains can make it, WTF can’t a place that offers really good southern cooking not make it?

    The answer is obvious. . . Charleston and WV in general is a foodie wasteland. People have no appreciation for good food. The only way to make it as an independent is to have a small place, with a small clientele and deliver something really good.
    You aint gonna make money trying to draw big crowds from anywhere in the KV. All those MacMansions around South Hills and South Ridge only prove one thing. . . there are lots of people around with lots of money and no taste.

    Yes, the loss of Billy’s is sad. I hope Bill has continued success downtown where he fills a niche market.

  4. We went to the pre-opening in mid-September which means Billy’s was open only three months.

    I really wish Chef Sohovich was able to stick it out a while longer because I feel like there wasn’t enough time in those three months to build up the clientelle this restaurant could have enjoyed.

    Even though “country cooking” is not my style, as Demo pointed out, you have to rate it on what it is meant to be. As far as country cooking goes, I thought they did an excellent job.

    Perhaps one reason the traffic wasn’t there is that compared to the other eateries with that style of food offered in the area, Billy’s was priced a bit higher. You get a lot more and a lot higher quality at Billy’s, but if folks don’t give it a chance, they wouldn’t see that.

    Another reason may be the crowds at Southridge include many people traveling from the southern part of the state – Logan, Mingo and Boone Counties – who may not recognize Billy’s & wouldn’t know what it was, but knew what the chain places were from national advertising.

    Maybe they should try that concept at a location in downtown Charleston one day.

    Good luck to them on future ventures.

  5. “Another reason may be the crowds at Southridge include many people traveling from the southern part of the state – Logan, Mingo and Boone Counties – who may not recognize Billy’s & wouldn’t know what it was, but knew what the chain places were from national advertising.”- Exactly the point I was trying to make in the comment section of your “chain” blog.

    People around here are afraid to try something they know nothing about and tend to go with what is “safe.” I know people who went to Myrtle Beach where there are tons of locally-owned restaurants but they ate at Applebee’s, Chili’s and Outback because they “knew they already liked it.” I was appalled.

    I know a bunch of people that would rather eat the mediocre crap served at chains instead of venturing out a little. I’d rather take my chances that something might be really good at somewhere I’ve never been, than go to a place I know I can count on to be average at best.

    I’m disappointed Billy’s closed before I got to try it. I don’t get to Southridge often, but I was planning on trying Billy’s the next time I was there.

  6. Hey,

    Even when we were there, the place was dead..

    Sagacious.. what did Mr Soho do out of the gate? (unless of course you’re being sarcastic)

    Did he change one stinking flat screen TV? I don’t think so.

    I liked the food… but in my honest opinion it wasn’t home cooking.

    The reason our parents cooked it was because it was cheap and easy! That’s Home Cooking ~ Comfort Food. Cheap and Easy.

    Billy’s wasn’t cheap by any means…

    Also, I think LAL hit it on the head, with the familiarity of the place. People go with what’s safe. If I was taking my family of four out to eat I pretty much know what’s available at Applebee’s and how much it costs. I can get in and out for less than $30… Hard to do at Billy’s when four soft drinks are going to run you $12 isn’t it?

    The food was great that we had that eve… The service was good.. But there’s a reason they didn’t have the crowds.

    I thought my ribs were more tender at Famous Daves than at Billy’s.

    Cheap and Easy…

    I just don’t think it was well thought out.. hell even in one of the basic marketing classes I had.. you have to know your audience… Do some research… When me and Susan sat down I think we both knew it wasn’t going to last.

    I hate to say it but the Tricky Fish could teach SoHo something or two.

    lol

    merry X-Mas

  7. I don’t appreciate Ron putting words in my mouth…or thoughts in my head.

    After my meal, I thought a lot more of Billy’s than I figured I would going in. My first impression was clouded by sticker shock from the drink prices.

    Ron should go back and read his review – he was gushing about this place. Why the change of tune, I wonder.

  8. I was high on starch….

    Plus I was expecting so much less, and I recieved a lot more.

    It’s all relative.

  9. I understand that restaurants are a business and their business is to make money. But if you think about what you are charged for something that costs pennies per serving, it’s rediculous.

    For example at a (locally-owned, of course) restaurant in Gatlinburg over the weekend, my mom ordered a side of grits with her meal for $1.59 and they were in one of those little tiny white bowls, barely two tablespoons. The whole pot of grits probably didn’t even cost $1.00 to make. It’s cornmeal (cheap) and water (even cheaper.) Crazy!

    So reiterating Ron’s point about overpricedness (new word?), think about a lot of the stuff Billy’s was serving and what he was charging. Potatoes (cheap), macaroni (cheap) & cheese (cheap), chicken (not expensive) and dumplins (cheap), ribs (not cheap, but not $16 or more for 1/2 slab). It’s no wonder he wasn’t successful.

    Then compare Billy’s to other more traditional comfort food places and you’ll see why again. For example, Diehl’s. It’s comfort food like moms and grandmas make and it’s cheap. Being that it’s like what mom and grandma make, less adventurous people have gone back for years and years because it’s what they know.

  10. “done out of the gate” was in reference to the huge stand-alone building. That is a big monthly expense. Also, there were so many service people in the place that they were getting in each other’s way.
    Let’s not be naive. It costs a lot of money to put out food. Yea, potatoes aren’t expensive items, but you’re not just paying for the basic food when you go into a restaurant. You’re paying for preparation and service too, which is a larger expense. When you go into a fine restaurant do you expect to pay cost of food plus 10%? Get real.
    We went in last weekend and the place was packed. We had three great meals and spent less than $40. Yea, I can go up to Patty’s in Kenna or even some shathole like Applebees and get three mediocre meals for less than $30. Big whop.
    Oh, and if the price of a glass of coke puts you off, do what I ALWAYS do in restaurants “water please.” Why would a gourmet drink anything else with their meal?
    Always glad to advise.
    SH

  11. When a soda costs $3, I will definitely get water… or a beer! As for the question: “why would a gourmet drink anything else with their meal?” I dunno. I am definitely not a gourmet. Whew! I don’t thnk I could give up Diet Coke to uphold my image anyway.

    Mr. Hillbilly makes an excellent point about the other costs to a restaurant besides food. Perhaps one reason the portions were so big were to justify the larger price tag which, in turn, supports the overhead and labor costs. Sure, he could have sold the food cheaper and in smaller portions, but the reduction in food costs as a result of smaller portions may not have yielded sufficient revenue to cover labor and rent.

    Some people just don’t care about the quality of the meal, the service or the atmosphere. Some people just want cheap. That’s why places like Rally’s exist.

    • A rule of thumb for food cost is 30% for most items. Soda and alcohol are priced at what the market will bare. There are more costs in a restaurant then most people realize other than food and labor. Energy, rent, insurance, chemicals, paper, pest control, carpet cleaning, etc.

      Billy’s is the first of many restaurants you will see fail in the next 20 months. The chains will cut their losses quicker than most mom and pop places (Smokey Bones and Gratzi’s). Places like Logan’s who are marketing cheaper meals on weekdays are on the right track. These places need to be proactive in their pricing and marketing. This is just the beginning. We all be eating Mexican food seven days a week real soon!

  12. demosthenes.or.locke

    Logan’s is on the right track? Dan, have you been toking on Ron’s crack pipe again?

    Logan’s is one of the scariest chains on corridor G! The place should be called Logan County instead of Logan’s. Heck, a typical night in there looks (and tastes) something like a prison cafeteria, and I am referring to both the food and the clientele. I have more teeth than all their waitresses put together. The steaks are grisly, tough, have little marbling, and taste like they were rubbed in the line cook’s armpit before going on the grill (microwave?)

    Just noticed you reviewed the Logan’s in huntington… could one chain location be that different from another?

    • Places like Logan’s who are marketing cheaper meals on weekdays are on the right track.

      Demo – I don’t believe I mentioned the food or the service of Logan’s. I only referenced the marketing. Marketing cheap food (price and quality) is going to pay the bills during this tough time. None of us have lived through an economic climate like this before so it is hard to predict what will be successful, but I can look at the past for a clue. Cafeteria’s like Morrison’s, Picadilly’s, and KW’s became very popular especially with parents of baby boomers. I suspect the blue plate special along with the 10% tip will return. Logan’s 13.99 meal deal is basically a blue plate special for two.

      So please don’t make the leap that because I respect a corporation’s marketing skills that I complimentary of their food and service.

      You also pointed out another reason not to review chains – if a positive review is given to one location and someone uses that review to dine at a different location then has a terrible meal. It calls into question someones “culinary credibility”.

  13. I will not address Dan’s alleged toking or the intent of his comment concerning Logan’s.

    I will, however, respond to the question as to whether the two Logan’s locations could be that different from each other.

    Logan’s is Ron’s kind of place – happy hour beer prices are good, the 2 dinners for $13.99 special is a good deal and the Bville location was conveniently located with regard to Ron’s former residence in Ona, The Country House. Before I met Ron, I did not eat at Logan’s.

    It took the low-carb diet to make me a Logan’s fan. He could get a rare sirloin smothered in A-1 sauce and I could choose from several entrees that were acceptable to my diet without breaking the budget. I usually get the grilled salmon. It has always been properly cooked and well-seasoned at Bville. I know I could pobably get the same thing out of the freezer case at Sam’s, but I put forth no effort with the Logan’s version. Plus, I don’t really care for steak so for Ron to get one, we usually go out. He’s apparantly not too picky about food when it’s cheap and besides, with all that A-1…can he really taste the meat???

    I also like Logan’s for the sides – I get two sides with my meal on the 2-fer special and I always choose caesar salad and broccoli. Again, the broccoli probably arrives at the restaurant frozen with the buttery seasoning already on it, but it tastes good and I like it. I am not a fan of the cheap-ass mixed veggies a lot of restaurants give you. I like broccoli. The caesar dressing is Ken’s but I like it, too. I like it so much, I asked what it was and if I could buy it and take some home with me.

    Another thing I like about Logan’s is that they have Michelob Ultra on draft.

    We have been to the Charleston location a few times and we don’t like it nearly as well as Bville. First, they smoke in Charleston so we can’t sit in the bar. We like the bar atmosphere and the fact that you can come in and grab a table if one is open without waiting…first come, first served. The salmon I ordered in Charleston was WAY overcooked. The friendly dude that usually waits on us at Bville knows us and cautioned Ron against the meatloaf – but Ron ordered it anyway…and regretted it. THe portions I received on my chicken meal in Charleston were so much smaller than what I got in Bville, Ron complained about it.

    Chains locations are usually very similar, but there are human factors involved that can cause one location to outshine another.

  14. Daniel-
    you would only question the culinary credibilty if you were silly enough to believe that every location of a chain is exactly like the others.

    Especially in the area of service – the individuals you encounter during a specific visit on that particular day is a huge factor in the type of service you receive.

    Humans are also doing the cooking. I can ruin pre-fabricated food in my home kitchen, just the same as chain employees can ruin food there – i.e. overcook my salmon at the Charleston location.

    I know it’s hard for a man to admit, but you know I am right.

    • Um…I think a review of the average page views of non-chains versus chains will show what our readers like and who is correct. The numbers don’t lie. It doesn’t take a CPA to figure that out or should I say a CPA can’t figure that out.

  15. One chain of the same name different from another? Hardly. Yea, at one place or another there might be prettier wait staff or one might have a cracker jack grill cook, but pretty much they are all the same. They get the exact same product, the cooks are trained to the exact same methods making the food and the food prep almost identical.
    The food is purchased in mass quantities from the lowest bidder. Is that what you’re looking for in your restaurant experience? Yes? Great. Go to the chains. You will always get almost exactly what you got the last time. Lucky you. Eating out is easy.
    For those of us who view eating as an adventure, hobby or. . . well, addiction, we’re always looking for the best stuff we can find for our food dollar. We’ll take a chance on someplace we know nothing about. We won’t walk into a joint that we know right off the top is gonna be assembly line generic. We’re foodies and we gotta have it!

  16. I have to say I for one really disliked the food at Billy’s (on both of my trips to the establishment) and will not shed any tears now that it is gone. I thought Bill’s take on home cooking to be under spiced and over cooked and way over priced.

    Goodbye I am glad to see you gone!

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