Although there are now close to 100 branches spread across the country, Bill’s was born in Lewes.
It started out as a fruit and veg merchant in 2000, but temporarily closed after the devastating floods the town suffered.
Owner Bill Collison re-opened, but decided he had to give the store some added value so turned it into a cafe.
Visitors to the county town used to eye the bustling, candle-lit interior with envy as they passed by – and, in 2005, Bill’s had opened another branch in Brighton.
Since then, branches of Bill’s have popped up the length and breadth of the country and even ventured into Scotland and Wales – all using locally-sourced produce and with the same cosy, shabby-chic interior with piles of produce, faux-antique mirrors and candles.
Bill’s opens at 8am for breakfast and keeps serving hungry people all day until 10.30pm (or 11pm on Fridays and Saturdays) through breakfast, brunch, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner. There are plenty of vegetarian and vegan options and they even check to see if diners have allergies before the menu is even brought to the table.
They won’t even roll their eyes if you just want to enjoy a couple of cocktails at a candle-lit table – and would probably even tolerate you if you rolled up at 8am and decided to nestle into a booth all day long, ordering your way through the menu throughout the day.
The staff are welcoming and charming – which should go without saying in a restaurant but doesn’t always happen – and full of smiles.
The menu focuses, crucially, on things that people actually want to eat – there’s nothing weird or wacky, no unusual fusion dishes the chef is aching to try out, but perennial crowd-pleasers such as halloumi, squid, sweet potato fries, fish pie, burgers, steaks and plenty of chocolate.
The favourites stay on the menu, but Bill’s does give the menu a seasonal tweak.
Currently, the summer menu boasts new starters Crispy Feta and Watermelon Salad, served with Bill’s dressing & Niçoise olives, green chilli, red onion & mint, and a Rosemary, Pea Hummus and Garlic Sourdough with shaved raw rainbow carrots, courgette & fennel, topped with mixed seeds.
The seasonal main courses include a Paprika, Garlic & Chilli Roasted Half Chicken, served with fries and spicy mayo to add layers of punchy taste, a Crab & Courgette Risotto and a Kale, Chickpea and Miso Hummus Salad – a lighter option and also vegan.
Summer desserts include Mango and Passion Fruit Eton Mess and Warm Strawberry Dusted Doughnuts, a twist on the popular mini doughnuts which always appear on the menu.
Bill’s manages to be all things to all people – you can order a vegan salad outside in the sunshine, or a rare steak and chips while nestled in a shadowy booth at the back of the restaurant, slurp a smoothie or swig through the cocktail menu.
OPENING TIMES: 8am-10.30pm (8am-11pm on Friday and Saturday)
ADDRESS: 153 Terminus Road, Eastbourne, BN21 3NU
PHONE NUMBER: 01323 739 963