Spicy Mike's Bar-B-Que
A Place Where Food and Faith Meet Every Day
Mike Havens, owner of Spicy Mike’s Bar-B-Q, walked away from a life of security and routine to take a leap toward his passionate hobby of cooking. Mike worked for Missouri Valley Inc., a general electrical and contracting company, for over 35 years specializing in Industrial Construction. He had always cooked for Missouri Valley employees and customers and enjoyed competing in area barbeque cookoffs. Mike was involved in youth ministry at his church for over 14 years and also enjoyed cooking for his church. He was always told he should open his own restaurant and according to Mike, “I kinda got to that point in my life where I thought I’m not getting any younger and if I’m ever going to do this I need to try it. I didn’t want to be eighty years old and keep telling my kids ‘one of these days I’m going to do it’, so I just decided to jump. I walked away from a sure deal where I could have retired. I was on the diving board and didn’t know if there was even in water in the pool.”
So May 8, 2012, Mike took his retirement and bought out Butch’s BBQ at 7028 S. Western, near Farmers Avenue in Amarillo and named it Spicy Mike’s Bar-B-Q Haven. Mike had never ran a restaurant before but he knew he loved people and he loved to cook. The new Spicy Mike’s little red building held 20 people. Mike attributes the growth and success of his business to the fact that he just loves people. With the smaller location, Mike was able to build relationships, get to know his customers and build a following. Mikes says, “Sure we’ve got good food, but it’s the relationships with customers that you build that keeps them coming back and they become regulars. People like feeling appreciated.” This sentiment can certainly be seen during our interview with Mike as he takes the time to welcome everyone that walks in the door and thank everyone as they leave.
Mike says running a barbeque joint is definitely a labor of love. He takes pride in only buying Choice and Prime meat and cooks it low and slow, which is usually 12-13 hours. He comes in at 4:00am and unloads the meat that has cooked overnight and puts in the ribs and sausage which will cook for 3-4 hours. Mikes says they will cook around 400-600lbs. of meat per night. On Tuesdays, they prep the meat for the week and make their homemade desserts including his wife, Anita’s, famous strawberry cake. And none of it goes to waste as all of Mike’s leftover food is gathered up by Peter, the manager, every Sunday morning and taken to feed our area homeless.
On June 17, 2016, Mike and Anita had been working the Amarillo Chamber Summer Celebration BBQ. They went by the restaurant to check on the meat and went home. Mike got a phone call at midnight from an 800 number so he just ignored the call. When Anita got a call from the same number, she answered the call from their security company alerting them to the fact that the motion detector was going off at the restaurant. Mike grabbed his gun and headed to the restaurant thinking someone was trying to break in. When he arrived, smoke was billowing from the little red building. Mike’s first thoughts were not about losing the business or his equipment but he was worried about his employees not having jobs.
Everything from the kitchen was lost. They ended up photo documenting 2,000 charred kitchen items for their insurance company and the damage was estimated around $87,000. Dave Thompson, a contractor, who owns the land and building Spicy Mike’s currently uses at 6723 S. Western St. came to Mike and offered him his building space to start over. The building is 4,000 square feet and was being used for storage. Mike and Dave sat down and came up with a plan to build a new Spicy Mike’s. The new construction took 8 long months and they were able to open their brand new location February 8, 2016. The brand new location holds 60 people, has an outdoor patio and even a drive through pick up window. The only thing that survived the fire was a collection of old cattle tools that can now be seen running as a border along the walls of the new Spicy Mike’s.
The Havens welcomed anxious previous customers and excited new customers with the following letter:
Hello and welcome. It is an honor to have you here with us today. We are very proud of this place. Thank you for choosing to dine with us. If you are one of our returning customers, thank you for your patience and loyalty. We have missed each of you. If this is your first time thank you for coming in. We look forward to building a lasting relationship with you. Our goal is to provide you with a great meal from start to finish and that you will leave happy.
It has been a long 8 months since the fire (6-17-16). A fire is one of life’s unexpected tragedies. It can become all consuming if you let it. Everything you’ve known – your routine, your comfort, your confidence and your possessions have been reduced to rubble. We have had to dig deep and rely on faith, hope, vision, commitment, strength and patience. God has been with us every step of the way even when we felt like He was far away. We want to encourage you if you are going through tough times, hang in there. Be open and receptive to what God has in store for you.
This place is a HAVEN. The definition according to Webster is: a place where you are protected from danger, trouble, etc. a sanctuary. Our prayer for you is this: if only for the length of your meal here with us that you would experience peace, security and unity with all who are here. Check your troubles at the front door. Come in, enjoy a great meal, enjoy each other. Enjoy this place. Be blessed and be a blessing to others. We are here to serve you.
Mike and Anita Havens
The first 2-3 months of being open at the new location were crazy busy with people lined up out the door and down the sidewalk. With the expanded space came a few growing pains of learning new processes and routines in such a larger space than they were used to. Mike believes the most important thing in the restaurant business is the daily and weekly routines. Mike says, “You have to be consistent with your food. You can’t have people come in one day it’s good and the next it’s crap. Every day has got to be the best you can do.” Mikes feels like it has taken them a year to get to what he calls “the science of the place”.
Mike’s youngest daughter Noelle was an integral part of his beginning of his business as she worked next to him every day for over 3 years. When Spicy Mike’s was down for the 8 months, Noelle went on to manage the Public House. Today, Public House uses Mike’s Spicy BBQ Sauce in their Bloody Marys and in some of their recipes which has sparked Mike’s future desire of bottling and selling his homemade Spicy BBQ sauce and special rub.
Spicy Mike’s sells sandwiches, plates, ribs, meat by the pound and caters to large groups or small. In February of 2017, they completed the remodel of the building opening up the other side to welcome another 40 guests to what they call “The Farm”. The Farm is a separate area that can be rented out for meetings and parties. They are open Wednesday-Saturday from 11:00am-8:00pm. So come out to Spicy Mike’s Bar-B-Q where The Spice Is Nice!