Down home success story
Broke Spoke known nationwide for big-time fun
Stevie Haas, owner of The Broke Spoke, a bar housed in a well-decorated shack in Brett Favre’s hometown of Kiln. Haas grew up in “The Kill” and never imagined he would run a bar, much less one that would become a nationwide tourist attraction. The Spoke has been written about by ESPN, The New York Post and other major media outlets.
Favre played football for the University of Southern Mississippi, was drafted by the Atlanta Falcons, donned the No. 4 jersey for Wisconsin’s Green Bay Packers for 15 years, contemplated retirement, played briefly for the New York Jets, contemplated retirement, played briefly with the Minnesota Vikings and finally retired in January.
Q — How long have you owned the Broke Spoke?
A — Twenty-five years. Open in 1985. At the time I was building bulkheads along river banks. We did it pretty steady but it wasn’t full-time. Then somehow I ended up in a bar room, but that was a lot funner than building bulkheads.
Q — How did the Broke Spoke come about?
A — I never wanted to have a bar. I rented a house next door to this building from a friend of mine. My great uncle ran (this building) as a country store for 17 years. My friend leased it and talked me into doing it. Three months later, he decided he didn’t want a part in it. So I bought him out. I rented it for $150 a month and bought in 1987. I paid more for my truck I got now than I paid for my house and this building.
Q — Why did you name it the Broke Spoke?
A — The day we opened this bar up my partner and I go to the bank to get a checking account. In my mind I think we’ll be doing this three or four months, and then we’ll be done with this stuff and go back to doing what we were doing. The lady at the bank says, ‘What is the name of y’all’s business?’ And I hadn’t thought about it. My partner said we ought to just name it the Broke Spoke. I didn’t think we were going to be here that long.
Q — Do you think Brett Favre’s retirement will negatively affect your business?
A — Probably some but not a lot. We always get a lot of local people, too. We still get a lot of people from Wisconsin (despite the fact that Favre switched to the Vikings).
Q — Where does Favre live now?
A — Hattiesburg.
Q — What do you think he’s doing?
A — Probably healing up.
Q — Do you talk to Favre much?
A — I know him, but I don’t see him a whole lot. I talk to his mother and his brothers.
Q — Hardest thing about your job?
A — Paperwork. It’s the most aggravating anyway.
Q — How’s business?
A — I don’t have a mortgage or anything. We don’t get rich but we make a good living. Beats the heck out of building bulkheads.
Q — What hours are you open?
A — We don’t have a closing time. Fifteen years ago, we’d open the bar on Thursday and wouldn’t close ‘till Monday. If these walls could talk …
Q — How many bras are hanging from the ceiling of the Broke Spoke?
A — I have no idea.
Q — How did the underwear thing start?
A — I had a part-time bartender. This girl came in one night and said, ‘Hey, can I hang my bra on the ceiling?’ He said sure. We always had T-shirts and other things up there. We probably had twice this many (bras) burn up in the fire (of 1999).
Q — ESPN did a live remote from the Broke Spoke during the NFC championship game between the Saints and the Vikings, right?
A — Yes. They were interviewing me. They asked, ‘What’s the ratio of the crowd going to be?’ I said, ‘Fifty percent Saints and 50 percent Packers fans.’ Nobody caught it. My brother called and told me, ‘Brett plays for the Vikings, not for the Packers.’
You just get so used to things being one way for so long. I hate that I said that on national TV.
More on Stevie Haas:
Favorite Foods: Shrimp and sausage jambalaya; fried soft shell crabs; chicken gumbo and potato salad (one dish)
Favorite Movie: “The Blind Side”
Favorite Magazine: Sports Illustrated
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