By Amanda Hatfield
For Hometown News
MELBOURNE BEACH -- With summertime in full swing, the beach offers the perfect escape for those especially hot and humid days.
For years, many Brevardians have flocked south to Melbourne Beach to catch some rays, but found they lacked one thing: a place to get some delicious grub.
"Once you are south of Ocean Avenue, there really isn't a place to eat if you're going to the beach," said Bruce Black, a Melbourne Beach resident and the owner of Billie's restaurant.
So, on Memorial Day 2011, Mr. Black opened Billie's, a relaxing beachfront restaurant, located at the North Spessard Holland beach access.
Offering a fabulous view, delicious, cooked-to-order food - all for bargain prices - Billie's has quickly become a favorite pit stop for beachgoers.
After tasting his food, it's easy to see that Mr. Black is no stranger to the food industry.
"I had another place called Billie's, which was just around the corner on Ocean Avenue," he said. "And prior to this one, I had a fried chicken business at the gas station in town."
Wanting to offer beachgoers a place to get a bite to eat, south of Ocean Avenue, Mr. Black, a Pittsburg native, looked into the building at North Spessard Holland.
"(The building) had been vacant since 2004," Mr. Black explained. "I approached the county (about my concept for a restaurant), and they thought it was a great idea."
A few years after his proposal to the county, Billie's was open to the public.
"I love my job," said Mr. Black said, grinning from ear to ear. "I get to come to the beach every day, rain or shine."
And Billie's location can't be beat. From the comfort of umbrella-covered tables, patrons can watch sea gulls fly overhead and surfers carve into waves.
To add to the relaxed atmosphere of his restaurant, Mr. Black holds an open-mic performance every other weekend from 3:30-5:30 p.m.
But Billie's pride and joy is definitely its menu.
"We make everything fresh," Mr. Black proudly stated. "We're not like a fast food restaurant, where you just pull up to the second window and then you're on your way. Our food takes a little bit of time."
The food is more than worth the wait. Billie's customers can order a wide assortment of food - burgers, hot dogs and breakfast sandwiches served all day.
One of the most famous menu items at Billie's is the french fries.
"We do fresh-cut fries; we don't even peel the potato," Mr. Black explained. "We have a potato press that we put the potato in and once it's cut, we place the slices in the oil. It's all made fresh to order."
Billie's even packs its own sausage for its breakfast sandwiches and bakes its own Italian bread several times a day.
Another thing Mr. Black wanted to offer his customers was an affordable dining option.
"None of our menu items are over $6," he said. "We also offer weekday specials."
For example, when you come to Billie's on a Wednesday, you can get a hot dog with all the trimmings for just $1! That's right - chili, cheese, sauerkraut, slaw - all for a buck.
"We don't do a value meal like the big chains," Mr. Black said. "Everyone is looking for a good deal, especially in today's economy, so we offer different things. On Tuesdays, for example, we offer 10 percent off anything you order."
The perks don't stop there. Customers can also access the Internet at Billie's via its free Wi-Fi.
Forget your sunscreen or beach umbrella? Billie's sells both items, as well as Boogie Boards, all for great prices.
"I want our customers to be comfortable," Mr. Black said. "They can come up, order their food, people watch (us cook it). What I can guarantee them is that their meals will be fresh, delicious and cooked to order."
"More than anything," Mr. Black added, "I want our customers to come here and relax."
Mr. Black also encourages Brevard residents to keep an eye out for he and his team's upcoming project, which will be a local artist gallery at 307 Ocean Ave., Melbourne Beach, inside the former Melbourne Beach Hardware store.
"It will be an artist co-op with the talents of local artists for sale," Mr. Black said. "Along with great art, guests will be able to sit and relax with a great cup of coffee, free Wi-fi and other treats. We have great plans, so if you or someone you know is interested, have them contact me at (321) 952-1999 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. We look forward to seeing you there this spring!"
Billie's is open Tuesday through Sunday from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
For more information, call (321) 952-1999 or visit them at North Spessard Holland Beach on A1A in Melbourne Beach.