Cisco has a new eatery and entertainment center downtown: Muddy Mikes Bar & Grill, located at the intersection of Conrad Hilton Boulevard and W. 10th Street.
It is owned by Mike and Jackie Belk, who have lived in Cisco for 10 years. Seen here the front of what was known as the "Webb building" in Cisco.
Where did the name Muddy Mikes come from? Co-owner Jackie Belk said “Muddy Mike is my husband. He has always dreamed of owning a bar and grill–it’s his lifelong dream.” Jackie had gone on a travel nurse assignment in East Texas, "and there was a Muddy Jakes there, and I thought . . . Muddy Mikes sounds way better, and that’s where the name comes from."
Jackie is originally from Canada, and her husband Mike is from Kansas. He is a CPA and was recruited to work for the Wilks organization in Cisco. "We were originally planning to go to Africa because I’m a nurse practitioner, and we were going to Africa to be missionaries."
Jackie Belk, co-owner, pictured in the lounge area of Muddy Mikes.
"But then we saw Cisco, and we said, Oh ~ here’s our mission field. Because there was no (medical) provider in Cisco then, so that’s why we did that." Jackie still works as a nurse practitioner in Cisco and owns her own clinic, just two doors down from the Cisco Development Corporation. Muddy Mike’s is her "second job."
The bar and grill dream began to become reality when Jackie spotted the building on Conrad Hilton at 100 W. 10th St. "Every day I drove by here, and I saw the building, and I thought man, that would be a great building for a bar and grill; that would be a great building for his dream."
She said she mentioned it to her husband one day, and he said "I think I know who owns it. And so, we talked to him, and made a deal, and bought it. That was in 2016." Jackie said the Cisco Development Corporation headed by Justin Jaworski was a big help.
Justin Jaworski, Executive Director of the Cisco Development Corporation (left) with Jackie Belk, co-owner of Muddy Mikes Bar & Grill (right).
"They helped us get started, because we could not have done this without them. We had no roof, there were just holes in here when we bought this place. It was like Jumanji, water pouring, and then all these windows were closed up. So they helped us with an interest-free loan to get the roof fixed, and the windows. The windows wound up costing more than that loan, but we were willing to put it in because these windows are amazing. Every single one of these opens up as a garage door."
The Belks have a vision: "We want to make this a place where people can come and hang out. We want to bring stuff for people to do. It’s amazing, people are here at 10 or 11 at night, and they’re not just young people goofing off, it’s couples and families. It has really made a place for people to come, and they love it because the kids are playing on the arcades, and we see people bouncing from table to table to table talking to each other. It’s great . . . and everybody knows everybody, and even if they don’t . . . they meet new people."
They will have bands every Saturday. Tuesday nights are already Piano nights. "Every night that we’ve had a band, we’ve had 300 to 400 people in here," Jackie said.
Thursday nights are going to be karaoke when they get that set up, and Fridays will feature a deejay. Future plans include having a kid’s play area outside, a beer garden with picnic tables, and a place for dogs and dishes for dogs.
The interior of the building is huge and sprawling, with many tables in both the restaurant and bar sections, a bandstand, a grand piano area, and areas with large sofas, conducive to conversation.
"At our Super Bowl party, a bunch of kids were here with their parents and sat on the couches and watched the Super Bowl. It was just nice to be around people." One event, the midget wrestling, was so successful that the restaurant had to close down the next day.
"We were out of food. We had maybe 650 people here that night, standing room only." She said right now probably 10 bands a day are requesting to play at the bar. "We have people from Houston and Austin messaging and saying, we want to play there."
On March 11, Muddy Mikes will have a crawfish feed and will start the bands at 5:00 and have about 3 bands and a headliner that night. The goal is to be open every day from 11 a.m. and to close at 10 on Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday nights, and close at midnight on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.
But right now, because the kitchen is understaffed, they are opening at 5:00 every day. Jackie said they are interviewing now and hope to open for lunch in about two weeks. The place has already hired many college students and hoping to hire more.
She said the popularity of the place is helping other nearby businesses because "we can’t feed them all. A lot of people are coming through, and our dining room is plumb full, and it’s a 45-minute wait, and we’re doing only bar food in our bar," and so she sends them to other nearby restaurants and tells them to come back afterwards for the show that starts at 8:00.
They close the dining room at 8:00 on Saturday night because they have to get ready for their band. But they still serve bar food such as wings, pizza, appetizers, fried mushrooms, mozzarella sticks, spinach avocado dip, nachos and salsa. Other items on the full restaurant menu include smash burgers. Rib eye, filet, sirloin steak, salmon, ahi tuna on a bed of noodles, chicken tenders, and chicken fried steak.
Justin Jaworski, Director of the Cisco Development Corporation, stated that "This venue brings what is right in line with what the leadership wants to see for Cisco. Muddy Mikes is a huge magnet. And with events like Pie Fest, which draw people in from everywhere, how much better it is that we have a place like this."
He recalled that when the city was suffering from the economic decline caused by Covid, "Jackie Belk was sitting in my office, and she’s instilling within me this grand vision that’s she’s had percolating in her head for years." "I love this line of work because it revitalizes communities," Jaworski said.
"And I’m listening to Jackie, and I’m thinking, this is something I’ve never heard of. In a community the size of Cisco, someone had the vision and the fortitude to bring it all together. It’s a lot of what so many communities wish they had: a place to go and eat that is communal, a place to enjoy the outdoors, that’s in the center of downtown, and they put the icing on the cake with a venue that brings in entertainment."
By Linda Spetter