Entrepreneur Steve Said holds the keys to many doors, some obvious and others are cleverly hidden. Sold-out crowds often push through the doors at his Dosey Doe The Big Barn to hear big-name musical stars, while a newcomer steps through the door at the Music Café to start their career. Only those with the secret password, though, can find the door to his timelessly authentic speakeasy. So pull up one of his beautifully mismatched chairs, grab a cup of his specialty craft coffee and watch the magic he creates.
A chance encounter with a stranded motorist opened a door Steve never anticipated. The man, a British service technician for an innovative bill-counting machine, repaid him for the ride to the airport with an unexpected opportunity. “I moved to Houston, which was booming, and started selling money counting machines,” he said. “We expanded to all types of banking equipment and software. It was very lucrative.”
By 1977 he was living in The Woodlands, had started the YMCA’s youth soccer program, was playing for Houston’s first semi-pro futbol team and become the first coach for the sport at then McCullough High School. “I loved it and the opportunity to serve this community and raise my family here,” he said.
In between goal kicks, Steve tuned in to writing lyrics and discovering good coffee. He imported a 165-year-old tobacco barn from Kentucky to the frontage road of Interstate 45 South, every board and beam marked, disassembled, and trucked to Texas. Originally purposed to be a coffeehouse alternative to Starbucks, he soon realized he had a space with unmatched acoustics: Dosey Doe The Big Barn opened for business.
“It was a fluke,” he admits. “But word got out. B.J. Thomas, who sang at Elvis’s memorial and everybody knows his song ‘Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head,’ heard about it. He loved playing here so much he started promoting it everywhere. Now about 90 percent of the artists we book, are calling us to request a spot on the calendar.”
Pop stars, jazz musicians, rock legends, and Christian artists like Steven Curtis Chapman all covet The Big Barn stage. Houston’s Mickey Gilley played one of his last shows there.
Even as The Big Barn took off, Steve continued percolating his love of coffee, something he realized he was naturally good at. He attended coursework in California, earned a Specialty Coffee Association Gold Cup certification and is currently the only one in Texas with a degree at his level. Four of the five Dosey Doe Coffee employees also hold a Gold Cup certification, and between 4,000 to 5,000 pounds of the boutique line of coffee are now sold monthly.
That cup of coffee, coincidentally, pairs perfectly with the menu at Dosey Doe Breakfast, BBQ & Whiskey Bar located on Research Forest, but when the sun goes down, the lights come up there on more live music.
“In the smaller venue, we host more grassroots local artists and up-and-comers,” Steve explains. “I came from writing with not-yet-somebodies, so I understand their sacrifices to progress their music. There are so few stages out there for them. You may not know who they are when you come in but, guaranteed, you’ll leave a fan.”
Conroe Country music artist Parker McCollum, who played his first-ever concert at Dosey Doe and held the release party for his first album there, has since gone on to hold the record for highest ticket sales at the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion and will be opening the 2023 Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo.
“It’s something special to be able to open a door for these young artists and be part of their history,” Steve said.
Even more history, though, lies on the other side of the door hidden behind the bar known for stocking more award-winning whiskeys than any place in the state. The STAGG, regarded as one of the most authentic speakeasies in the nation, shimmers with antique chandeliers. Prohibition-era art covers the walls. And Steve Said has lovingly done most of the construction work himself. Intriguing and alluring for cocktails, a very limited number of guests can also reserve a table for dinner, featuring a uniquely crafted period menu.
With a love of the past, Steve still looks ahead. On Mother’s Day Weekend 2024, he’ll launch his Big as Texas Music Festival at the Montgomery County Fairgrounds featuring top A-list country and Americana artists. It will be second only to Austin City Limits, according to Steve, and part of the proceeds will go to suicide prevention.
“This is a great place to live,” he said. “If I can take some of the things I love and make it even better, how lucky am I?”