BANGOR — The Maine Air Museum hosted a reunion on Aug. 2 for Bill Zoidis, former owner of the legendary Pilots Grill, which operated on outer Hammond Street from the 1940s to 2002, and 18 of his former employees and their spouses.
Zoidis, 84, has lost none of his charm since the days at the Pilots Grill when he knew every customer in the restaurant, said Maine Air Museum Director Chuck Byrum.
When the Pilots Grill first opened, the commanding officer at Dow Air Force Base paid Paul Zoidis, Bill’s father, a visit and asked if the restaurant planned to serve alcohol. The answer was a firm, “no,” which pleased the C.O. because he didn’t want his personnel getting intoxicated during the noon hour since the establishment was the favorite hang-out for the airmen stationed at Dow, according to Bill Zoidis.
He also said that his father mentioned that during World War II sugar was rationed and each family had a monthly allowance for the kitchen staples. If a family ran out of sugar they would go to restaurants, such as the Pilots Grill, and empty the contents of sugar bowls into small paper bags and take it home with them.
Bill Zoidis was honored with the presentation of a key to the museum. He was immediately
put on notice that if he uses the key and is the first one in, he will have to make the coffee.
Demonstrating has graciousness, Zoidis invited the group to be his guests for lunch at the
Byrum said visitors can relive the glories of the Pilots Grill and of Dow Field at the Maine Air Museum where Maine’s rich aviation history is preserved. The museum is located on the former Dow AFB grounds on Maine Avenue, approximately a half-mile north from where Hammond Street meets the runway. The museum is open 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturdays, and noon-4 p.m. Sundays, from Memorial Day through the last weekend in September.
The most expensive item on the Pilots Grill menu in the 1940s was a steak dinner. Come and see what it cost, Byrum said.