Lily’s Seafood Grill & Brewery, 410 S. Washington Ave., Royal Oak, 248-591-5459
When Bob and Scott Morton opened in 1999, they named it after Lily A. Strange, a Scottish immigrant and loving grandmother.
“My grandmother wasn’t a chef. She wasn’t even a good cook,” said Bob Morton. “It’s not like she was a bad cook, either—we just named the restaurant after her because she was a great hostess. When I was in high school, I could just show up at her house (in Detroit) with 10 football players at 6 o’clock on a Friday night, and she would feed us all and act like she was expecting us.”
It’s that spirit of hospitality, learned from Lily, that is the bread and butter of the seafood restaurant that bears her name—and what sets it apart from other downtown restaurants.
Both Morton brothers have homes in Royal Oak. Each has four children who have gone through or are currently enrolled in Royal Oak public schools.
Bob said they have an investment in the community that goes beyond bricks and mortar. They support local artists, , a kids' night and mug and wine clubs, all of which helped them develop a strong local following.
The Mortons, with their eight children between them, are also engaged in the public schools as volunteers and sponsors.
“We like to give back to the community, but ultimately, it’s self-serving,” Bob said. “We know for every dollar we’ve given, we’ve gotten it back fourfold.”
It’s part of Lily’s long-range strategy.
“I have had kids I bought a yearbook ad from that come back and work for us later as employees," Bob said. "Then they get married, and they bring their families here to eat.
“We’re not beholden to a board (of directors) on some short cycle," he said. "We can take our time. We know we will get our investment back one day.”
It’s that kind of participation in the community that keeps loyal customers coming all year—that and the food and beer, of course.
Before opening Lily’s, both brothers worked in seafood restaurants operated by older brothers Bill and Tom in Florida, and Bob had experience as a brewer, traveling all over the country to hone his skills.
Bob attributes Chef Scott Brown’s creativity for keeping the menu fresh with entrees such as Seared Ahi Tuna, Caribbean Scallop Plate, Steamed Shrimp and Scallop Platter, Char-Grilled Beef Tenderloin and Grandma Lily's Crabby Pork Chops.
Lily's has been voted "Best Seafood" by the Detroit News, Real Detroit, Mirror Newspapers, Metro Times and the Arts Beats & Eats "Best of the Fest."
“We have lunch specials and dinners specials,” Bob said. “You could come here every day and see something different.”
The only thing that never changes is the friendly welcome. Grandma Lily would be proud.
Recommended dishes: Captain's Seafood Platter ($29.99) and Big Belgian Chocolate Brownie ($5.99).
Prices: Salads start at $3.99, sandwiches at $7.99 and entrees at $14.99.
Credit cards: cash, debit Card, MasterCard, Visa
Hours: 11 a.m.-10:30 p.m. Sunday-Thursday; 11 a.m.-12:30 a.m. Friday-Saturday.