Me & Billy Kitchen and Bar – New Restaurant
200 3rd St.
Total Investment: $600,000
Community Development Block Grant Interest-Free Loan: $60,000
Private Funds Leveraged: $540,000
Projected jobs created: 30
Me & Billy Kitchen and Bar – which marks the fulfillment of a dream for Frances Maus and the exciting return to the downtown Davenport restaurant and bar scene for her parents Bill and Mary Collins – is the anchor tenant in the ambitious United Cigar Building rehab at the corner of 3rd and Main streets.
The nearly 6,000-square-foot restaurant will feature a private dining and party room and a unique, 2,500-square-foot second floor outdoor beer garden. Owner/operator Frances Maus said the intent is to deliver a comfortable, relaxed but stylish urban feel to this busy corner of downtown.
“We love downtown so that’s where our focus was,” she said. “A lot of restaurants in the Quad-Cities have a sports bar vibe, and that’s not something we wanted to do. We want to be a friendly place where anyone can go and have a good time. And we want to serve the kind of food we enjoy eating ourselves.”
Maus has a degree from Iowa State University in hotel and restaurant management, but hadn’t really put it to use, choosing instead to focus on a career in Chicago. But after she and her husband returned to Davenport a few years ago, the dream of opening her own place grew stronger. Fortunately, she had a great resource to turn to – her folks Bill and Mary Collins – who ran Mac’s Tavern on 3rd Street for many years. Mary will be co-owner with Frances and Bill will be general manager.
And about that rather unique name?
“I have a younger brother,” reminisced Bill. “And when we were growing up, all he ever said was ‘me and Billy are going to do this, me and Billy are going to do that.’ My parents got such a kick out of it, they bought us a little rowboat for us to use and they painted the name Me and Billy on it. We have an old picture of the boat and when we were trying to come up with a unique and personal name for the new place, somebody saw the picture and said how about “me and Billy” and it just clicked.”
Interior work on the historic building – which was built in 1916 by local architectural firm Clausen & Kruse – is well underway, including the installation of a massive historic back bar Bill discovered. Frances and her sister Sarah put thick paper up over the massive windows lining both the 3rd and Brady street sides of the building while work continued. “We want it to be a surprise and a “wow!” reaction when people walk in for the first time,” Bill said.
The size and scope of the space will certainly be eye-opening. Frances believes it will be the among the largest restaurant spaces downtown, especially when outdoor beer garden is complete sometime in 2014. The main floor and banquet facility are slated to open later this fall.
me & Billy is one of four tenants in the former United Cigar Building, which is being renovated by developers Shawn Larson of Big Dog Construction and longtime downtown supporter Jim Thomson. The Ruby Slipper, Rick Jennisch Photography, Studio One Eleven and Big Dog’s construction offices will all call the building home. Thomson also plans on adding to the building and creating apartments above the ground floor retail in the coming years.