West Babylon native Billy Miller developed three passions over the course of his 35 years.
Being involved in the community and helping children are the first two we’ll mention.
He pursued careers as a teacher and guidance counselor, moving his life from Long Island to South Carolina to teach history and coach high school football. But he always volunteered and later worked full-time for nonprofits that helped those with mental health issues and at-risk young people.
All the while, Miller always seemed to pick up work in restaurants since he was 15.
“I have done everything from dishwashing to cooking to managing,” said Miller, who bartended at Babylon’s Del Fuego for six years.
In 2018, the now-Lindenhurst resident found a way to do it all at once.
“I wanted to combine my passion and my knowledge from my daytime and nighttime job, and put them all together into one,” he said.
On Aug. 28, Miller, with help from his wife, Nicole, opened a not-for-profit restaurant called Restoration Kitchen & Cocktails.
He stumbled upon the idea of a nonprofit restaurant, which donates its net profits to charities, after reading about one in Portland, Oregon.
“I read about it and I thought — that is me,” he said. “That is everything I do.”
He immediately began searching for a location to bring this idea to life on Long Island.
Miller told GreaterBabylon he looked at places in Bay Shore, Babylon Village, and Oakdale, but is beyond glad he chose 49 East Hoffman Avenue in Lindenhurst.
The Millers signed a lease in March, and soon he began researching the structure itself that was built 1910.
He was amazed when the Lindenhurst Historical Society informed him the 100-plus year old building was founded by a fraternal group called the Odd Fellows, whose mission was to “show faith back in humanity by doing random acts of kindness.”
“I said ,’Your joking, right?'” said Miller. “If I had any doubts, it was solidified after that.”
With the help of his family, the Millers began transforming the once Odd Fellow headquarters — which later was used as an ice cream parlor and bar.
He loved the idea of restoring old pieces to decorate his restaurant and give it a cozy, homey feel.
“The outside looks like a home and the inside feels like one,” he said. “We used 150-year-old barn doors and made them into tables.”
Then there are the 250-year-old ladders that he used to decorate the ceiling.
The community has responded.
“Lindenhurst has been great,” said Miller. “They spread the word, they keep coming back, and they believe in the product and mission.”
And it has the support of townwide leaders, too.
“The Town Board and I are thrilled to welcome Restoration Kitchen to Lindenhurst,” said Babylon Town Supervisor Rich Schaffer. “Their commitment to give back to the community where they are established is a perfect fit for the character of our town.”
how the nonprofit model works
Every four months, Restoration Kitchen & Cocktails donates its net-profits to two Long Island-based nonprofit organizations.
When each patron sits to eat, they are given information about each organization. After their meal is over, everyone at the table is given a coin, where they have a choice of which cause speaks to them more.
There are two flower pots that represent each foundation.
At the end of the four months, the percentage of coins in each part represents that amount of money is donated to each charity — after all the salaries and other expenses are paid.
“You pick which charity that you believe in or speaks to you,” said Miller.
The next two charities will be picked by Dec. 28.
“I want people to leave here, feel good, and go do something good for somebody else,” said Miller. “Spiderweb it into that pay-it-forward mentality where people change society, the world.”
When creating the food and drink menu, serving everything fresh was of the up-most importance, said Miller.
“We get 15 produce deliveries a week, use antibiotic-free chicken, and fry our foods in sunflower oil,” he said.
According to Restoration Kitchen’s own staffers, some go-to food items are the crispy Buffalo cauliflower, its mac-n-cheese quesadilla filled with pulled pork called the Mac Melt, and its array of burgers.
For cocktails, its blueberry Moscow mule has been a hit.
“From there delicious appetizers, to there specialized quesadillas, sandwiches, and burgers, the Moscow mule selectons and unique Martin’s, I truly adore this place,” writes one Yelper.
“It’s nearby and we will be coming by more often to try more of there well-thought-out, unique menu.”
Restoration Kitchen, which sits 60 people, is open Tuesday through Sunday.
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