Lakeside Hangouts: Billy's Bar and Grill in Vergas a summer hotspot
VERGAS, Minn. - Ron and Linda Flemming are relative newcomers to Billy's Corner Bar and Grill in Vergas.
But the Flemmings, who recently bought a lake home near Vergas, are committed to becoming regulars.
"I like the atmosphere and they've got good food," said Ron Flemming, as he and his wife waited to place their order on a recent weekend.
Linda Flemming said she likes the small-town feel of the place.
That about sums up the establishment's appeal, said Kylee Seifert, a bartender and waitress at Billy's.
"We're known for our burgers, which are huge," she said. "We have really good customers. You see a lot of regulars."
The building occupied by Billy's has been a fixture in Vergas for many years.
The original structure, built in 1903, burned down in 1918 and was replaced in 1919 with the building that still stands today.
It's always been a bar.
The building became Billy's Corner Bar & Grill in 1990 after it was bought by the late William "Billy" Day.
Kevin Flynn, who bought the business about 4½ years ago, said he feels fortunate to be the caretaker of a beloved lakes tradition.
"2010 was the 20th anniversary of Billy's," said Flynn, who sees Vergas occupying the center of a lakes universe.
"The Perham lakes are on one side - Crystal, Lizzie, Lida - and the Detroit lakes are to the north. It's kind of all roads lead through Vergas," said Flynn.
"I still can't believe I own it," said Flynn, who has started a house band at Billy's called the Bon Fire Band.
"I have a bunch of musician friends who always played by the bonfire," he explained. "I'm the frontman. I play guitar and sing."
Walk into Billy's and you have two sides to choose from.
Veer right and you're greeted by knotty pine and trophy fish on the walls.
The left side is a bit brighter and it's where bands set up when evening rolls around and the family crowd gives way to the night owls.
The bar and grill is open year-round, but summer is by far their busiest time.
"We do a great winter business, only because we get a lot of snowmobiles through here on the trails," Flynn said.
"In the fall, you've got hunters and in the spring you've got fishermen.
"But," Flynn said, "there's no question: Summer is by far the time for us to make our hay."