Living

Thirty years strong, Broke Spoke owner says it's been a wild ride

TIM ISBELL/SUN HERALDThere will be a 30th anniversary celebration at The Broke Spoke in Kiln.
TIM ISBELL/SUN HERALDThere will be a 30th anniversary celebration at The Broke Spoke in Kiln. SUN HERALD

KILN -- There wasn't much going on in Kiln when Stevie Haas and his roommate opened up a biker bar in June 1985. In fact, Haas wasn't even sure he wanted to rent the space on Kiln-Picayune Road that once housed a grocery store.

"Dolly's wasn't there. There wasn't nothing around here when we opened," Haas said.

In June 1985, there wasn't a stoplight at the intersection of Missisippi 603 and Kiln-Picayune Road. The two service stations on either side of the highway weren't open, either. The strip malls located throughout the town that host banks, restaurants, small speciality boutiques and hair salons weren't yet built.

But The Broke Spoke was open for business. And after three decades, patrons can still find Stevie Haas behind the bar on weeknights, serving up ice cold beer, cooking a pizza in the back or sitting in his chair and watching the news.

The bar has seen tragedy and triumph and has had one major renovation and a lot of "wild" parties, he said.

"It's been a lot of fun, too," he said. "You don't get rich but you make a living."

The beginning

When Haas and Martin Curet opened what regulars just call "The Spoke," it was originally to be a place where the two and their biker buddies could hang out and drink together. Before the sheriff's department put a stop to it, they even hosted drag racing events on the road in front of the bar.

But the small wood-framed structure attracted more than just motorcycles and drag racers. But the crowds just kept getting bigger.

Each person who entered the doors of The Spoke could drink cold beverages all night and leave a little memory before they left their bar stool empty again. The bar is filled with signatures, drawings and quotes that folks have left behind in permanent marker. Once the bar was full, people started writing on the interior walls, Now, the outside walls are covered with welcomed grafiti.

When Haas and Curet began renovations after first scooping up the venue, they put half-inch sheetrock on the walls.

"That stuff was just brittle...Everytime we punched a hole in the sheetrock, we just put a T-shirt over it," Haas said.

The trend also continued. The walls are covered with T-shirts, underwear, uniforms, Brett Favre memoriablila, old posters, Mardi Gras beads and a few flags.

When former "Master Chef" contestant Albert Necaise tended bar, he started the next phase of Broke Spoke decoration.

During one of his shifts, a woman bet Necaise he couldn't guess her cup size. If he guessed right, she had to leave her bra to hang on the ceiling. If Necaise guessed incorrectly, he was to buy her a six-pack of beer.

"I maybe bought three six-packs in about four years," Necaise said on Facebook.

Boost from Brett Favre

When Brett Favre and the Green Bay Packers played Super Bowl XXXI on Jan. 26, 1997 in New Orleans, Necaise said he didn't have to guess cup sizes anymore, for women just left their bras during the party that Haas said brought thousands of people to Kiln.

In fact, Haas said it was Brett Favre that helped the little bar in the Kiln become a tourist destination for football fans from Wisconsin.

He thought his Super Bowl party would only attract about 500 people. By the time it was over, officials estimated more than 5,000 people partied at the bar and watched Brett play that Sunday. The Packers defeated the New England Patriots 35-21.

For eight days, the bar was so busy, Haas decided to keep it open for 24 hours. Buses of Wisconsin residents came to South Mississippi to watch the game. Guests could barely move inside the bar. Outside, it was a huge party. National media picked up the story, and the Broke Spoke become iconic, even though Favre himself has only been in the bar about a half dozen times, Haas said.

"When Brett started playing football, people would come here and watch the games, but Brett pretty much put us on the map," Haas said.

In the winter, Haas said the bar sees visitors from Wisconsin every single day.

A community favorite

Parties at The Spoke are a staple for many Hancock County residents.

Haas said the bar hosts a popular Halloween party every year. There are parties at Christmas and at New Years.

Around Thanksgiving, a large group of Hancock High graduates host an unofficial class reunion at the bar, and the crowd grows each year.

Haas said he cooks red beans and rice every Monday for Monday Night Football, and he's only missed it one week since he's opened the doors.

But it wasn't rowdy on those Mondays, for Haas said it was more like family night.

Parents would bring their children to eat and watch football with them. Two of Haas' children, Rycki and Stephan, were also there on Monday nights.

"We raised two kids in this par and put them through college," Haas said. "We made a good living."

Haas used to hang out with future wife, Mabel, in the bar before they started seeing each other. They knew each other for 10 years before they got married and have been together for 25 years.

One of his favorite things about owning The Broke Spoke is watching children he knew as infants come in as adults and sit at a stool, drink a beer and share memories.

He even opened his doors to Lindsey Lee-Bounds, a close friend of Rycki and Stephan Haas, to shoot wedding portraits inside the bar in March. Both of the Haas girls were bridesmaids.

"It's been a good ride, and it's been a lot of fun," he said.

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