Hippy Mikes opens doors in Fayette







Grilling up a groovy good time

Hippy Mikes opens doors in Fayette


Chris DeBack


Hippy Mikes in Fayette hopes to be more than an idea and just another restaurant. 

Owners Tracey Chambers and Michael Steinwand aspire to become a brand synonymous with love for its community and customers along with great food. 

“It started as an idea, but it has evolved into much more,” Chambers said. “What Hippy Mikes is, is a brand. We make everything from scratch. Michael’s barbecue is off the hook, and we believe in giving back to the planet. One way is by having less waste. We are extremely conscious of where our food comes from. We really like to use local, fresh ingredients and organic ingredients, if possible. However, we also know that we have a price point to meet.”

A native of Waterloo, Chambers met Steinwand in 2015 at a marina club in Santa Barbara, Calif. The two hit it off, and it wasn't long after that the couple moved Cedar Falls to be closer to Chamber’s late mother Jacqueline Richards. The assisted living facility she was staying at noted she needed more care, after assessing the situation Chambers felt she just needed more love. In 2016, the three moved into together. 

Hippy Mikes was originally dreamt up to be a mobile restaurant, attending local festivals to spread the joy great tasting food with fresh ingredients can provide. It wasn’t until the couple came across the Boike’s building for sale on Craigslist that the idea changed. The couple bought the building, and moved into the apartment above the restaurant with Chambers mother. In need of some tender loving care, the two slowly began to rehab the building while taking care of Richards.

“My mom and I helped water the flowers downtown all summer, and she just had a blast doing that,” Chamber said. 

Richards fell ill the day after the restaurants soft opening and died a few days later. Chambers was grateful for the love and support the community showed her, which is what she thinks makes Fayette so special. 

“The people that rallied around us to help take care of my mom was amazing,” she noted with a smile. “Her death made us stop and go, ‘Okay, what are we doing? Who are we going to be? Maybe we should just slow down again and figure it out as we go.’”

Located in the former Boike’s Trailside Inn, as its owners search for an identity after Chambers mother’s death so to is the local eatery in the process of defining its brand. In doing so, the restaurant hasn’t set traditional hours. For now, it is going to focus on the late-night scene opening for midnight tacos from 11 p.m. to 3 a.m. Tuesdays and Saturdays. The goal is to also be open for special events, such as Homecoming when it will open at 8 a.m. this Saturday. It is also planning on hosting a Halloween event.  

“As far as what can Fayette expect from us, we will have a consistent presences once we figure out what we can do best for the community,” explained Chambers. “We think it is going to be special events and catering to the late-night venue.”

Since a soft opening a few weeks ago, the couple hosted a painting class that included a meal. Chambers and Steinwand feel that the experiences are what Hippy Mikes is all about. For example, the duo wants to host live music, poetry readings, and have storytelling on their small stage. It goes beyond the food they serve and more into the experience and vibe they want people to have when they come to the restaurant. 

“I think [the food] will be one component,” Steinwand said. “We cosign art here, and we feel we could have a private event venue. I think we will focus around the special events and the private events. We don’t see ourselves opening up everyday for breakfast, lunch, and dinner at this point.”

For Chambers and Steinwand, Hippy Mikes is just a small portion of what they hope could be the continued revitalization of Fayette’s main street. They own the building next door, which is currently for lease to any other entrepreneur with a vision. Coming from a tourist destination like Santa Barbara, Mike sees the potential in Fayette.

“The area is a destination location with the campground out by the lake between here and West Union and the campground at Klock’s Island,” Steinwand said. “This area has the potential to be marketed as a come to place. There is plenty of beautiful scenery and a lot of potential for fishing and hunting.” 

Hippy Mikes encourages everyone to keep an eye on its Facebook page for upcoming special events. While Hippy Mikes might not have traditionally defined hours, the couple is certain the experience for Fayette will be worth the wait. 



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