[cleeng_content id="376753139" description="Read it now!" price="0.49" t="article"]RANSON – Forty-four years after Billie Milburn established a popular diner on the corner across from Ranson City Hall, the eatery that still bears her name is about to enter a new era at a new location.
Dorothy Dyke, who carried on Billie’s after her mother’s death in 2006, is turning over the restaurant to her daughter Regina Kerrigan, though she said she’ll continue to help as a consultant.
The plan is to shut down operations at 309 S. Mildred St. on Dec. 8 and begin readying a new space in Ranson Square.
When the restaurant reopens in early 2014 as Billie’s Café and Bakery, it will feature a tweaked menu with the same breakfast entrees and other favorites but with more salads and other healthy items as well as an expanded bakery with coffee and other quick-pickup options.
“We’ve had some people say ‘Oh no, you can’t move – this is where my wife and I had our first date 40 years ago!’ but most everybody has been extremely positive,” Dyke said. “They’re excited to know we’ll be in a nice, new space but with all the same food and staff they love.”
Billie’s new location is part of the CVS building left vacant since the pharmacy chain opened its store at 328 W. Washington St. in Charles Town. “The new space is actually a little smaller,” Kerrigan said. “We can seat 100 people here now and in the new place, we’ll have seating for 70.”
But the tradeoffs will include a location on the city’s main thoroughfare and amenities that have become standard for businesses in recent decades such as accessibility for disabled customers and larger restrooms with diaper changing areas.
“A lot of things that we’re used to now weren’t even considerations when this restaurant was built,” explained Dyke, who said Billie’s current site was constructed in the 1940s, part of an early shopping center with a bank, post office, movie theater, drugstore, bakery and other shops.
Through the decades, Dyke said her mother always felt a sense of pride that the restaurant she started in early 1969 was still thriving on the same corner.
“But I know she’d love to see this too,” she said. “She’d be thrilled to see her restaurant moving into the hands of a third generation – changing with the times and bringing in good new ideas.
“It’s an exciting time.”