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- Our Story -

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So Who Is Bonita Bill?

In 1991 Bill Semmer purchased the property and opened it as Bonita Bill’s Waterfront Cafe. Blending its history with its future – taking “Bonita” from The Bonita Fish Company and “Bill” for his name and well that’s how we got Bonita Bill’s which also translates to “Beautiful Bill’s.” We’re a little weird here on the island, so we think it works. Bonita Bill’s early days started out as a little local concession stand – selling popcorn and beers and THE place to dance the night away.

 

Over the years it has grown to become a local gem and popular tourist destination where we still live by Bill’s words, “No Shirt?, No Shoes?, Can we get you a beer?” Focusing on proudly serving “Pink Gold” from our local shrimping industry just down the road to supporting numerous community events or organizations including the Ostego Bay Foundation Annual Kid’s Fishing Tournament and Sponsoring a princess each year in the Lion’s Club Shrimp Festival, to various community drives and fundraisers.

 

Bill created a special place and community where everyone is welcome. We feel we are more than just a little waterfront café and so many folks tell us Bonita Bill’s is their “happy place.” Shirley passed away in 2015 and Bill passed away in 2023, leaving the restaurant to family to continue on in their legacy.

Pictured: Shirley & Bill Semmer

Building Back After Ian

Bonita Bill’s suffered extensive damage from Hurricane Ian on September 28, 2022. With a storm surge making its way to the ceiling, the docks being battered to oblivion, and boats still stuck in the marina; we are lucky to say we are still here. We survived.

The primary restaurant structure and the event building amazingly did not receive have any severe structural damage … but boy did it come close! With efforts from Bonita Bill regulars, the local island community, volunteer organizations, and the Bonita Bill’s crew, under the leadership of founder and former owner Bill Semmer, the clean up began. Debris was removed, the buildings were stripped back to their bones, and boats were pushed off what was left of the docks and even the roof - but bit by bit, Bill uncovered Bonita Bill’s and he began the monuments task of putting it all back together.

 

Sadly, Bill was diagnosed with an aggressive form of melanoma in late 2022 and he passed away in January 2023, with his family by his side. His three children and now co-owners, rallied together to finish what he started – building back Bonita Bill’s. On March 18, 2023, Bonita Bill’s reopened.

It’s been a long hard road, and there is still so much left to do, but we are determined to preserve this special place that all means so much to us, our family, our extended Bonita Bill’s family, and our community. Our goal is to build back and ensure that Bonita Bill’s is here for the next generation to carry on Bill’s dream.

Whether this is your first trip to Bonita Bill’s or you are returning as an old friend, we thank you for your support and helping us to keep this dream alive – to remain a local family operation. We hope you will see the progress each trip make and that you enjoy this little piece of paradise just as we have all these years. We thank you for your patience and understanding as building will be a long, slow process but can promise you, we WILL build back!

 

Pictured: Bill Semmer's grand-daughter AnnaKat.

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Bill Semmer

LIAR'S CLUB FOUNDER

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Shirley Semmer

LIAR'S CLUB FOUNDER

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Lorraine Semmer

LIAR'S CLUB FOUNDER

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2023

Reopen after Ian

All of our licensed professionals have been carefully selected and rigorously trained, ensuring that you receive the best experience. When you choose to work with us, know that you are consistently choosing quality and excellence. Contact us to learn more.

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2022

President Biden Visits

We would not be who we are without our eco-friendly design, which is at the core of our strategy. We are constantly working to improve our offerings and expand upon our capabilities when it comes to design and production. Get in touch to learn more.

2022

Hurricane Ian Hits

We have strict standards when it comes to what we produce and never compromise on quality. This is especially true when it comes to the first-rate materials we use. Our customers deserve the highest level of products on the market, and we work tirelessly to maintain those standards.

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