Ben Higgins on new Denver restaurant Ash'Kara

Working on My Childhood Dream: A Restaurant

By Ben Higgins

“What do you want to be when you grow up?” Eight-year-old me never knew how to answer. In fact, I typically froze up and changed the subject.

Thinking about what I wanted to be makes me laugh. Some of my friends were learning about biology and prepping for the LSAT. Instead, I was building sand castles. (I like to think of myself as someone who will always be young at heart.)

A man named Stacy

I used to visit a restaurant, Stacy’s, 10 miles outside of Warsaw, Indiana. Named after the owner, the eatery served steaks, a red drink my grandma would order sheepishly — she’d giggle after drinking it — and the best pre-frozen calamari that side of the Tippy river had to offer.

The atmosphere was even better than the food. Christmas lights hung from the tiled ceiling. The bar’s massive mirror made the restaurant look twice its size, ashtrays lined tables covered in plastic tablecloths, and smoking was allowed.

A blend of tenderloin, fried food, and cigarettes permeated the air. Grease, family, friends, and ranch dressing was what “going out to dinner” in the ’90s looked like — and it was wonderful.

The corner booth

The most memorable part of Stacy’s was the corner booth. I always wanted to sit in this intimate space. The reason:

It’s where my hero, Stacy, sat.

I looked up to this bald, skinny man, and he had no idea. Why did I want to be Stacy? All I knew is he owned a restaurant, smoked cigars, and had lots of friends.

Stacy would sit in his booth, cigar in hand and a bottle of wine in tow. Friend after friend, couple after couple, would roll through the restaurant, convene with Stacy, and enjoy dinner.

The power of breaking bread

Fast forward many years and I’ve discovered the real reason I wanted to be in that booth. I desire a connection with people. And I’ve seen the power of connecting by breaking bread with others.

Years ago, I mentioned my restaurant dream to a friend and restaurateur, Juan Padro — he is a modern-day Stacy — and I told him how I hope to create those authentic moments. I want to smoke my pipe, celebrate with happy friends, and mourn with struggling friends.

True connections are life’s greatest gifts. They occur in surprising places with unexpected people. They can reshape our ideals and perspectives.

Jesus chose dinner to create memorable moments. He gave his friends worldview-changing news during a supper, which transformed history forever. I know nothing else than to follow Jesus’s lead in life.

A big opportunity

Earlier this year, Juan gave me the opportunity to invest in a Denver restaurant called Ash’Kara. When the establishment opens later this year, I’ll partly own a restaurant and be a little bit closer to becoming Stacy.

So, come visit and make some memories with me. (And check out the MW Instagram to see more of the delicious dishes we’ll serve!)

What did you dream about as a little kid?

(Ash’Kara menu images by Baltz & Co.)

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  • Reply
    November 12, 2018 at 6:33 pm

    Congrats Ben! How exciting! And you’re absolutely right – The crux of Jesus’ ministry was at that last supper. It’s actually quite amazing – Jesus used bread and wine to explain what His entire purpose was on earth – His life, death and ressurrection. I mean, wow. There really is something so intimate about sharing food and sharing hearts with loved ones around a table. Will have to check out Ash’Kara next time I’m in Denver!

  • Reply
    November 12, 2018 at 7:34 pm

    God is good! Congradulations on your dream coming true. What a beautiful story!

  • Reply
    November 12, 2018 at 7:52 pm

    Love this! Way to follow your dreams ~ I own a small Cafe & Bakeshop in Grand Junction CO and feel the same way. I want to connect with people and friends, without cell phones, like they did back in the day. 🙂 Its been an amazing experience so far. Congrats & Best of Luck!

  • Reply
    November 12, 2018 at 8:34 pm

    Congratulations! This narrative about Stacy’s is a great inspiration. I like how you connected your childhood, your faith and the interconnection with people and sharing food.

  • Reply
    Holly Stogsdill
    November 12, 2018 at 9:18 pm

    Been there back home, it was a fam thing and such a local, cozy feel! Totally know exactly what you mean with the booth too haha. Excited to try the new spot here in Denver 😋

  • Reply
    November 12, 2018 at 11:33 pm

    When I was 9 years old, I wrote down all my future business ideas on a sheet of notebook paper. An entire page was dedicated to the layout of my future spa. When I was 22, I realized that I wanted to become a massage therapist, not just own a spa. I wanted to lay hands on those in need of healing and grow my personal ministry through my newfound career. 10 years later…I still do massage, but I have also grown my business beyond my wildest dreams. It truly is a blessing to combine your calling with your career!

  • Reply
    November 12, 2018 at 11:34 pm

    Congratulations on this next step, Ben. 🙂

  • Reply
    Lindsay Johnson
    November 13, 2018 at 7:28 am

    Huge congratulations! As a fellow Hoosier and Christian, I am always so proud of you. You took a unique opportunity and continue to grow and be true to your faith. I love how you are proud of your faith. I think you’ve done some amazing things and thanks for representing our state and God the way you do! Side note – I love your podcast as a long time Bachelor/Bachelorette fan. I was in your shoes a few years ago, but when it was God’s time (at 33) I found my perfect husband. I’m sure your perfect wife is out there and you’ll find her at the right time. Congrats again and God bless!

  • Reply
    Bachelor Alum Ben Higgins Is Opening a Restaurant in Denver - Review Celebrities Life
    November 13, 2018 at 4:04 pm

    […] a post titled “Working on My Childhood Dream: A Restaurant” on his website Mahogany Workplace, Higgins, 29, announced that he is part of the team opening […]

  • Reply
    Tyler S Haines
    November 14, 2018 at 11:01 am

    Thanks Ben Higgins from Stacy’s!! Love your family, always enjoyed working the Fish Fry with your grandpa. My dad, Stacy would love your tribute. My mom, Colleen loved the Bachelor and it was the last show she watched before passing.

    The restaurant had a fire, but we are repairing and remodeling. Hope to see you on a future visit. We will talk food!

  • Reply
    Randy Black
    November 14, 2018 at 11:57 am

    Wow. Pretty cool. I felt the same way but as a 20 something adult in the 80’s. Loved going there with my Leesburg friends for prime rib and hash browns supreme and oh the country salad! Still love going there today.

  • Reply
    Kelley Miller
    November 14, 2018 at 1:49 pm

    This made me tear up as I too, knew that man Stacy!! My favorite thing he would always say….”Hey kid, what’s your act?!” My grandmother and mother had the privilege to call him Bossman!! He and his wife Colleen, were some of the most absolute kindest and caring people that I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing!! Awesome memory and thank you for bringing back my memories as well!!!

  • Reply
    Naia bockman
    November 14, 2018 at 3:27 pm

    What an awesome tribute to Stacey. Still live that place. Hoping they reopen soon!

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