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Big Mike The Struggle is Real


Back in 2007, “Big Mike” Lewis packed up his life in Tampa, Florida, and moved to his father’s hometown of Houma, Louisiana, on a two-fold mission: to spend some quality time with his “Pops” and to introduce Houma to his dream BBQ joint – a fun gathering place where the community could come together and enjoy great food, drinks and music. Big Mike’s BBQ Smokehouse opened a year later at the corner of Tunnel Boulevard and Barrow Street in a 12-seat cafe that would be the first step toward making that dream a reality.


Equipped with a Lang barrel smoker, years spent cooking in pro kitchens, and his Pops’ experience from manning pits for his own dad’s smokehouse, Big Mike fed locals his “fresh is best”-style BBQ. The recipe was simple: rub extra TLC into every smoked rib rack, brisket, sausage, pork, turkey and chicken quarter that already took hours of nurturing and patience to get just right. Guests who had frequented the location prior became Big Mike’s regulars as the smokehouse gained a reputation for cranking out tender, fall-off-the-bone meats and homestyle, small-batch sides.


Then fate served Big Mike’s a few burnt ends of its own. In September 2008, just 6 months after opening, Hurricane Gustav battered the Houma community. The restaurant was heavily damaged but repairable and reopened 2 weeks later. An electrical fire in November 2009 proved to be a much bigger challenge. The historic building was lost, although every brisket smoking that night was still in good shape.


Refusing to give up on his dream, Big Mike moved his smokehouse to a gas station, where he continued serving his regulars until a new 70-plus-seat home on Barrow Street opened its doors in 2011. Growing demand led to the opening of a second location in Thibodaux in 2017. A bit more refined, Big Mike’s of Thibodaux invites you to wash down traditional and new favorites like smoked jerk wings and crawfish boudin with your favorite craft beer on tap. It’s that community hangout where families, friends and the college crowd can catch up over some great comfort food while a business lunch takes place one booth over.


Big Mike’s BBQ Smokehouse is now a local staple, staying true to its “fresh is best” roots while focusing on building a more diverse, scratch-made menu featuring mouthwatering, jazzed-up flavors from the area. The lived-in BBQ joint’s casual vibe makes no excuses for inviting you to drown some 14-hour-oak-smoked brisket in Big Mike’s award-winning BBQ sauce. Craving a half rack of baby back ribs? Go ahead and get extra saucy with the Mutha sauce, a special house recipe where sweet meets heat.


Guests visit either location with their focus on the food that Big Mike and his wife, Judi, have been working to perfect for more than a decade. Big Mike keeps his focus on maintaining the great customer experience that brings regulars back while looking ahead to the next chapter in the Big Mike’s story.


“I love our vibe at both restaurants, but I still want to build the place that our community deserves,” Big Mike says. “I want to create a place where the food and the environment match, where you can enjoy a hand-crafted brisket sandwich while hanging out with your family and friends and listening to some great live music. I want to build THAT place in Houma.”

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