in memoriam: Billy’s Burgers

By Jim Stanford on March 30, 2012

Comments: 32 Comments

Billy's burgers were known for being large, cheap and served on a toasted bun with mayonnaise and a side of waffle fries. Legions of tourists and locals came as much for the atmosphere and boisterous staff as the food.

Today is the last day of Billy’s Giant Hamburgers. The landmark Town Square eatery is closing after 28 years.

So devotees better move fast to down one last gut bomb, at least in the tiny nook with ’50s-style counter service that distinguished the place. The burgers may resurface in some yet-to-be-determined dining venture, possibly down the street at Teton Theater, but the character of Billy’s will disappear into history like a coating of burnt gristle scraped from the grill.

I worked in Billy’s my first winter in Jackson Hole. I had been hired that fall to wait and bus tables in the adjacent Cadillac Grille, but it quickly became obvious that Billy’s was more my speed. I only had been in the valley a few weeks when, on my first day on the job, Harrison Ford came in for a Billy’s burger. He sat with his back to the window and ate quietly. I knew I had come to the right place.

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star gazing on the slopes

By Jim Stanford on January 5, 2010

Comments: 8 Comments

That's Marie, visiting from Paris. But just over her shoulder, Hilary Swank canoodles her beau over lunch at Teton Village. Photo © John Dowling. Click to enlarge.

Used to be that Jackson Hole was known only for ski-lebrities, the dudes who appear in TGR films. Aside from the occasional Harrison Ford cameo and Connie Stevens‘ B-list Celebrity Ski Extravaganza, Jackson lacked the star power of its glitzier cousins Aspen and Sun Valley.

This New Year’s week, the Hole was abuzz with a slew of Hollywood sightings, from restaurants like Rendezvous Bistro and Osteria to the slopes at Teton Village. You couldn’t go out at night, it seemed, without running into an actor or actress that most of America is gaga about.

“Jackson is supposed to be this low-key place,” asked a friend, John Dowling, himself visiting from Los Angeles. “What’s with all the celebrities?”

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I’ve got a bad feeling about this

By Jim Stanford on September 15, 2009

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Indiana Jones storms Snow King. Click to enlarge for details.

Dr. Jones storms the King. Click for details.

Just kidding. Actually, the weather is looking up.

But you may want to bring a tarp to put beneath your blanket.

The showing has been postponed to next Tuesday, Sept. 22.

Proceeds benefit KHOL.

Will Indy himself show?

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Dr. Jones is back, painfully

By Jim Stanford on May 22, 2008

Comments: 4 Comments

(Updated 5/23 — be sure to see comment below)

The cold, dreary weather outside is a cinema owner’s dream, especially when a certain snake-fearing professor in a fedora returns to crack the whip.

Besides last night’s midnight premiere, Movieworks has five screenings of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull: 4:15, 5, 7, 8 and 9:30 p.m. There will be two additional matinees at 1:30 and 2 p.m. over Memorial Day weekend. (Movie listings always can be found here.)

The N.Y. Times review laments the lack of “any sense of rediscovery,” and there are plenty of reader comments decrying the efforts of Lucas and Spielberg, but you’d have to work pretty hard to spoil the fun of an Indiana Jones movie. Then again, the Star Wars prequels kind of sucked.

We have idolized Harrison Ford since Han Solo first fired the Millennium Falcon into hyperspace, but that boy crush turned man crush was cemented when, on our first or second day of work in Jackson Hole, Ford came into Billy’s Burgers for lunch. We knew we were in the right place.

Since then we have followed his exploits running the Snake River and swooping in with his helicopter to rescue a sick hiker in the Tetons. At 65, he continues to be an inspiration for us all, especially to anyone who has seen him work the bar at Rendezvous Bistro.

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