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The Ruff Ryders Houma Chapter and Big Mike’s BBQ Smokehouse are presenting the “Bikers & Bar-B-Que” event, which will benefit the local Toys for Tots and Ruff Ryders Coats for Kids.

At the outdoor gathering this Saturday, attendees will be able to indulge in some of the best barbecue around, listen to entertaining records spun by DJ Cobreezy, check out plenty of souped-up prized motorcycles and contribute to some great causes.

Annually participating in the Toys for Tots, giving back to the community is of great importance for the Big Mike’s team, co-owner Judith Lewis said.

“We’ve been in business now for 13 years, and we’ve done a lot of events on a smaller scale. As we grow, we want to grow our community involvement,” she shared. “Our community gives to us so often just by coming in and enjoying their meal with us. It’s definitely something we need to give back.”

Lewis added that it’s a “perfect opportunity” to get involved with another organization by co-hosting the event with the Houma Ruff Ryders, who engage in several charitable acts throughout the year.

Through their Coats for Kids that started just three years ago, the motorcyclists were able to donate over 600 brand new jackets to kids in need at various schools, and the used donated ones were given to churches and other organizations that have community outreach programs.

The club has also handed out Thanksgiving dinners at a local elderly facility, hosted its own Toys for Tots and held discussions on possibly starting a program that would provide meals to first responders, said Matt Hebert, Houma Ruff Ryders Business Manager

“We try to do anything and everything we can do for the community as far as helping out,” he added. “And with anything we try to do in town, we bring our love for motorcycles and stuff like that along with it.”

“Motorcycle organizations often get a bad bad rap, but we are doing positive things for our community,” said Allen Craft Jr., Vice President of the Houma Ruff Ryders. “Come out to support this Saturday — and get to know us.”

To help the Coats for Kids cause, guests can add gently used child coats to the collection at this weekend’s event or make a monetary donation — with 100 percent of the proceeds going toward buying new jackets.

Written by Drew Miller

Houma Times

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Michael Lewis is the owner and head dishwasher of Big Mike’s BBQ Smokehouse with locations in Houma and Thibodaux. Big Mike’s is also a member of the Thibodaux Chamber of Commerce.

Michael is no stranger to the restaurant industry. “I am an industry veteran trained to meet high demand in high volume corporate-ran restaurants,” he said. “My goal to buy my first car was my inspiration to gain employment at the age of 16. After years of success in Houma, the desire to expand and encouraging patrons asking me to come to Thibodaux, I made it my mission to make it happen. Thibodaux, like Houma, is very community-oriented and is one of the best places to create a community gathering place.”

Big Mike’s BBQ Smokehouse is a barbeque joint first and foremost, but they also like to create dishes that incorporate different styles of cooking and flavors. “Our Jamaican Jerk wings are an example of this. We love barbeque, but we also have a passion for great music,” said Michael. “Our goal is to tie them together and give our patrons a place they love to come to for both.”

As far as one piece of advice to someone just starting out, Michael said, “Owning a restaurant is not for the faint of heart, in fact, it can be brutal! Anyone endeavoring to get into the hospitality industry should always put the love of owning a restaurant equal to their passion to earn a respectable living! This is not a get rich quick scheme, in fact, there are far better businesses to get into. If my advice has discouraged you, I have done you a favor, if it has gotten you even more fired up to succeed, this just might be your calling!”

Michael has great ambition when it comes to motivating and steering Big Mike’s BBQ Smokehouse on a successful path. “Achieving my goals of building up our employees, our brand, and giving the community its very own ‘Cheers’ is my greatest ambition for Big Mike’s BBQ and is what motivates me to continue improving. I am a strong believer that the great job we may have done yesterday does not count today.”

Being part of the Thibodaux Chamber of Commerce bas been a master class for Michael in managing his own business. “The opportunity to develop fellowship with the business community is valuable and allows you to be a part of a group filled with business-minded people.”

For more information about Big Mike’s BBQ Smokehouse you can visit

Written by Ben Jones, Jr.

Managing Editor

Thibodaux Chamber of Commerce Insight

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About a decade ago, Mike Lewis stood among the smoldering ruins of his business, wondering if it would survive.

Picture of Big Mike
Big Mike's Owner Michael Lewis

Ten years after the fire that destroyed the first location of Big Mike's BBQ Smokehouse, Lewis' restaurant not only survives but has become one of the most prominent establishments in the area. Especially after being voted the Best Overall Restaurant in Terrebonne and Lafourche parishes for the second consecutive year.

The awards were part of the Bayou's Best of the Best contest by The Courier and Daily Comet in which over 300,000 votes were cast by people in the community for their favorite businesses in various categories.

Big Mike's also won the award for Best Barbecue, but Lewis said that winning the Best Overall Restaurant award in an area that takes such pride in its food culture is extremely gratifying.

"It means a lot to me," Lewis said. "It means we've touched a lot of people's lives in the community, and they know who we are. That's a good feeling. �Best Restaurant' for me is a really big deal."

Rather than lamenting the fire, which leveled the building on Barrow Street on Nov. 29, 2009, Lewis has turned what could have been a death blow to the business into something of a silver lining.

"Burning down was something that actually made us stronger," Lewis said. "Just realizing that if we just stay the course we can handle whatever is put in front of us. In a lot of ways, it has helped us tremendously to go through something like that."

Big Mike's BBQ Smokehouse has two locations, at 3034 Barrow St. in Houma and at 120 Laura Drive in Thibodaux.

Lewis said the business is still moving forward, with new menu items like Jerk Chicken Wings and Mac and Cheese Balls, and has plans in the works to move the Houma restaurant to a bigger location.

It's a bit of a balancing act, not abandoning what made you successful but also not just resting on the status quo.

"You can't ever be complacent," Lewis said. "For people to keep appreciating what you do, you have to give them a reason to do so. We try to stay the same but enhance what we do. People know us as a barbecue restaurant, that's what we want to be, but we always want to improve what we do."

Original Article written by:

Scott Yoshonis | Houma Today

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