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Michael Felts is a proven restaurateur, yet he admits he doesn’t actually know how to cook. He says he just loves to eat good food. And after traveling around the globe over the years, he decided to share his love of food with the Ozarks.
“That’s kind of my whole thing with restaurants. They’re kind of a hobby, because I want to eat at these places – that’s why we are creating them,” Felts, 45, says.
Currently, he owns a few restaurants in the Ozarks, such as Hot Cluckers, Bourbon & Beale and Taco Habitat LLC. Felts says each restaurant has a menu representing the style of food he craves and was influenced by.
Nashville-style fried chicken at Hot Cluckers on Sunshine Street was inspired by his time spent working in Tennessee 10 years ago. He says he would eat at Hattie B’s Hot Chicken in the city, which serves Nashville spicy chicken. He brought his wife to experience it for herself. She suggested he open a similar restaurant in Springfield.
“We are opening a second location on South Campbell probably the first week of February,” Felts says.
“We are going to increase the menu, offer different things, such as Nashville hot chicken, our cashew chicken … have a breakfast pub, have a huge sports bar,” he says.
Bourbon & Beale, adjacent to the Battlefield Mall, was born after Felts says he merged the idea of his two favorite streets together. The restaurant’s menu has Cajun and Creole items inspired by his travels to New Orleans. Customers also can order Memphis barbecue, which was motivated by his time in Memphis where he spent every weekend with his great grandmother.
Most recently, Felts opened an environmentally friendly restaurant off of Glenstone Avenue in November. Taco Habitat was constructed with 100% recycled products, including shipping containers for the foundation, Felts said. The idea for organic tacos came from his multiple trips a year to Mexico. He plans to open another Taco Habitat in Branson.
“It all started over a turtle with a straw in its nose. And then I was like why stop at just the straws? Why not use recycled stuff for the building or for the tables and chairs, the packaging and everything else?” Felts says
However, Felts says his true passion in life is music. Since he was 17, he’s loved to write songs. He declined to disclose what songs he has written, but says he has sold some that people can hear on the radio today.
“Growing up, my dad always had a Beatles album playing – like always. And I was a huge Beatles fan and still am,” Felts says. “I actually saw Paul McCartney two years ago in Liverpool on Christmas.”
Heirloom Candle Bar moved; art supply thrift store Arrow Creative Reuse opened; and Rockford, Illinois-based Beef-A-Roo debuted in Springfield.