MILWAUKEE — Donteah and April Morehouse opened Atwood Highway BBQ in South Milwaukee in March this year. The roots of how they cook their food traces all the way back to Milan, Tennessee.
"I started doing farmers markets and we started when COVID hit," Donteah says. "Everything was kind of closed down. We got in whatever we could and I think the ultimate plan was to always have a barbecue shop and we can display everything that we wanted to do."
Donteah showed us a brisket that he'd been smoking for 12 hours. He takes a lot of pride in his work, and the name of his restaurant reflects that.
"Atwood Highway is where it started... We were cotton and hog farmers before I was born," he says.
The decor in the restaurant is a call back to that family farm — with red walls the match their barn and oak chairs to remind you of the oak trees lining the property.
Donteah's grandfather bought the property in 1900.
"So he came from slavery into 76 acres. He represented what it meant to be free out in that land," Donteah says. "They had the cotton field, they were working hogs, [as] grave diggers. They started barbecuing in land where they would dig a hole in the ground and smoking hogs there before there were pits to be used."
Memories like that means Juneteenth is a big deal for the Morehouses.
"We're going to give it to them. Got the beast getting prepared right now — she's getting a new axle, a new roof, some new signing," Donteah says. "She's going to make her first annual debut at Juneteenth this year."
The Morehouses are planning for rib tips, ribs, pork skins and more.
"We're going to put some smoke in the air, Atwood-style. We're going to try and bring it to them. The beast is going to be ready," Donteah says.
And he says good food brings people together.
"We're bringing the food there, we're trying to educate and let them understand what our culture is and let them come down to Juneteenth and let them experience other portions," Donteah says. "Not just our story, there's probably 300 tents out there that has a different story than us."