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Walkers Grill celebrates 25 years of live jazz and colorful history in downtown Billings

Walkers Grill celebrates 25 years of live jazz and colorful history in downtown Billings

Walkers Grill

The sign at the original Walkers Grill location in the Old Chamber Building announces the restaurant's imminent opening in January 1993.

Walkers Grill and Tapas Bar has served noted guests like former president Bill Clinton and poet Allan Ginsberg and hosted some lively jazz sessions on Sunday nights during its colorful 25-year history.

On Friday, Walkers will throw an anniversary celebration, exactly 25 years after its soft opening on Feb. 23, 1993.

Walkers' original location was in the old Billings Chamber of Commerce Building on Third Avenue North.

Cellar 301

Cellar 301 opened in the basement of one of downtown Billings' most recognizable buildings, the old Chamber of Commerce Building located at 301 N. 27th St., in 1977. After Cellar 301's closure in the early 1990s, the space became home to Walker's Grill, which moved to the Securities Building on First Ave. N. in 2004.

The restaurant moved to its present location at North 27th Street and First Avenue in 2004, but many fans of the downtown restaurant fondly remember the early days in the basement restaurant when chef Mike Callaghan served his specialty dishes. Walkers has invited Callaghan to join in the anniversary party, helping current chef Nick Steen in recreating some of the original dishes from 1993.

Walkers Grill

Bill Honaker, right, discusses plans for Walkers Bar & Grill with co-owners Michael Callaghan, left, and brother James Honaker. The restaurant, originally located in the old Chamber of Commerce building on Third Avenue North and 27th Street in downtown Billings, opened in February 1993.

Mike Callaghan portrait

Chef Mike Callaghan 

Bill Honaker, owner of Walkers, said Callaghan plans to personally deliver his signature dishes during the anniversary party, with dinner served from 5 to 11 p.m. 

Billings Latin salsa band John Roberts Y Pan Blanco will perform, starting at 8:30 p.m.

Walkers Grill

Walkers Grill

Walkers was named for Honaker’s father, Walker Honaker, a Billings OB-GYN who delivered many of Bill Honaker’s friends, which was mostly a source of pride but some awkwardness during his teenage years.

Walkers has been a recipient of the Award of Excellence by Wine Spectator for many years. It has also been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Frommer’s Guide, and Montana and Sunset magazines.

Bill Honaker

Owner Bill Honaker talks about the remodel at Walkers Neighborhood Provisions on Tuesday, October 17, 2017.

Other noted restaurant guests over the years include Mel Gibson, Lou Gosset Jr., Jon Voight, Bruce Dern, Joan Baez, and blues artists Keb Moe, Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks. 

For many years, Walkers Grill has hosted live jazz on Sunday evenings. Sometimes Honaker, who plays drums, sits in. 


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Entertainment Reporter

Jaci Webb covers entertainment for The Billings Gazette.

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