If you’ve ever visited Yankee Stadium, chances are you’ve seen Billy’s. Located on River Avenue in the shadow of the stadium tucked beneath the row of businesses below the 4 Train platform that carries passengers to and from the Bronx each day, Billy’s has been a staple in the Grand Concourse section of The Bronx for over two decades. But don’t get it twisted, much like New York, there’s more than one way to get to Billy’s and there's more than one experience to be had. On one end, there’s the entrance on 161st Street that makes the place seem like a quaint dive bar, and then there’s the larger side on River Ave that transforms into outdoor rooftop space, indoor dance floor, lounge, and sports bar. We met up with Joey Manesis, the man who runs Billy’s day in and day out, and discussed his history in the neighborhood, his experiences with the beautiful game, and who “Billy” actually is.
Tommie Battle: Alright Joey, the people want to know who is the illustrious “Billy?”
Joey Manesis: Billy never worked here, we named him after Billy Martin, the former Yankees manager, and the name just stuck.
TB: Can you tell us your relationship with soccer? Are you a soccer fan?
JM: Oh, big time. My whole family. We're originally from Greece. So everybody in Greece is super diehard soccer. I grew up supporting Olympiakos, but now we support NYCFC. So, it's fun because we're right across the street, and we get to take care of the fans.
TB: Compared to Yankees fans who come here a lot, it's obviously a larger fan base, but do you see the passion from fans for NYCFC?
JM: If not more. They go crazy for the team. They love the team. Yeah. I've never seen passion like that. Unless
you're in Europe watching soccer, It's crazy. It's awesome.
TB: How long has Billy's been in business? And how long have you been running Billy's?
JM: So we've been in business since 1998. We just renovated the back in 2009. So we blew up the whole thing. So that's how big it is now, and I've been here for 10 years now.
TB: In that 10 years, you’ve seen NYCFC start, did you initially welcome the club into the neighborhood?
JM: So fast. It's awesome. Anybody who wants to come here and enjoy this life, it's the best. It's awesome, but it's also a pleasure to take care of people. That's what we're here for fans. Without people we can't be here.
TB: So moving a little bit forward into 2020. How were you able to weather the storm last year? And then the second part of the question is, where do you see the business going?
JM: So, of course we were closed the whole year. So that was tough, because there were no Yankee games and no NYCFC games at home. So that's where we really make our revenue. And so we just basically closed the whole year. So we started working again in April for the Yankees and now NYCFC and it's been good. It's been very good. Thank God, hopefully it stays the same. And moving forward. We're just gonna try and get back to normal. Like, you know, like everybody else. Everybody's just trying to get back to normal. That's at the end of the day. That's all we want.