MILWAUKEE — The OnMilwaukee initiative Cash Mob MKE aims to help support Milwaukee restaurants with a strategy that encourages people to spend money at the same restaurant on the same day.
On Thursday, Ashley's Bar-B-Que at 15th and Center was the center of this week's cash mob efforts.
"They have been coming in like crazy. You name it white, black, everybody just trying to help people out help the community. It’s a beautiful thing," said Darnell Ashley, the owner of Ashley's Bar-B-Que.
Darnell has run the place for two decades. He said his dad built it in 1961. This is one of those places where the smokey smell of barbecue hooks you and draws you in.
"The smell combined with the waiting, it's it's like a spa treatment for the senses," said longtime customer Steve Smith.
Darnell said cash mob organizers reached out about five days ago, giving him time to get employees ready.
Like many restaurant owners, the pandemic has changed everything. For one thing, Darnell said it has made meat harder to come by.
"This is a whole new thing and it's been crazy. Just got to try to adapt and do the best you can. Come up with specials. Whatever we have to do," said Darnell.
Customers heard about the campaign over social media and were eager to show their support.
"These guys are putting in a lot of hard work into their business, so if we can help keep them going, let's do it," said one customer, Steve.
"I want to make sure he succeeds and continues to succeed, because it's good food and they're good people," said Shirley Lewis, also a customer.
Darnell, who makes it point to visit other small businesses, does not take that love for granted.
"It's a blessing. They don't have to be here. It really is a blessing so I thank the customers and everybody it's nice," said Darnell.