About a decade ago, Mike Lewis stood among the smoldering ruins of his business, wondering if it would survive.
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. ï¿½Best 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