Atwood Hwy BBQ Expands After Just 3 Months in South Milwaukee

Smoke is spreading at Atwood Hwy BBQ in South Milwaukee because the business is (metaphorically) on fire.

Owners Donteah and April Morehouse opened their barbecue business at 925 Madison Ave. on March 10 and less than three months later, they expand due to extremely high demand.

The couple are working on outdoor seating plans, adding 10 tables to the three already outside. Plans show the parklet spanning seven feet and spanning 35 feet the full length of the restaurant.

The parklet tables will be equipped with parasols. A new awning will cover the tables just outside the restaurant, which serves around 100 people around 1,000 pounds of meat every day. Atwood is so popular that it sometimes runs out of meat.

“I think the parklet is going to be a good thing,” Donteah Morehouse said. “Enjoy the outdoors and we’ll be pumping music and food out there.”

The restaurant takes its name from a Tennessee highway where Milwaukee native Donteah Morehouse spent her time growing up. The Morehouses wanted to bring some of that Southern-style barbecue to South Milwaukee.

“South Milwaukee has been great,” Donteah Morehouse said. “I can’t express enough how much people appreciate what we do.”

Local traffic is great, but customers come from all over southeast Wisconsin, April Morehouse added.

Donteah and April Morehouse open Atwood Hwy BBQ Company at 925 Madison Ave.  in South Milwaukee in January 2022.

What is the secret of success?

“Be authentic,” said April Morehouse. “If (a customer) says no, someone (else) will say yes. Just have confidence in your product.

Her husband agreed.

“People will respond to your product,” he said. “We started with pig skins, who would have thought we would be here now?”

The Morehouses started out in a 12ft by 12ft pop-up tent until they rented space in a Masonic Hall in Brookfield until the owners realized they needed a permit to rent the space.

From there, the smell of the couple’s barbecue continued to fill the air at many farmers’ markets and South Milwaukee Crusherfest where a few customers told the couple about the available space on Madison Avenue.

More indoor seating is coming, owners say

The couple also hope to expand indoors with a larger dining room, larger kitchen and another smoker in the back.

“The first phase is the parklet, the next phase is the rest,” Donteah Morehouse said.

Atwood Hwy BBQ will partner with the Tri City National Bank across the street for loans and for some events, including a potential pop-up barbecue station around the corner, Donteah Morehouse said.

“We still have to finalize some details,” he said.

The Morehouses have partnered with other businesses in town, including South Milwaukee Sausage & Meats, which makes all of Atwood’s hot ties, and JB’s Tee Shirt Factory for branded apparel.

Weekly Whole Pork BBQs Begin May 26

Atwood Hwy BBQ owners Donteah and April Morehouse said inflation hasn't affected them too much, although they have had to raise prices slightly.

Some of the most popular items include brisket, burnt ends, pork belly bites, ribs and rib tips. Be sure to bring a toothpick.

Atwood has recurring daily specials and the Morehouses are planning a new one every Thursday from May 26: a whole pork barbecue.

“We’re probably the only ones in the state that regularly do a whole hog,” Donteah Morehouse said.

The Morehouses also plan to add custard to their menu by the end of June and their own wine label, Atwood Hwy Winery, by the end of July. The wine will be sold by the glass or bottle and, for now, will be bottled by a California winery. The couple hope to eventually obtain a license to produce it locally.

Although inflation has affected many industries, April Morehouse said it hasn’t been too bad for them.

“Some supplies have hit us hard, and we can’t keep some things in stock, which is one of the reasons we’re running out quickly,” said Donteah Morehouse, adding that they had to raise prices slightly in reason for inflation. “We will try to keep the prices the same.”

The couple suggests people come early if they want a full selection as the barbecue can sell out quickly.

For Atwood Hwy BBQ fans who can’t make it to South Milwaukee often, the Morehouses plan to take their large trailer grill to markets in Butler, Menomonee Falls and Thiensville in the coming weeks.

Contact Erik S. Hanley at [email protected]. Like his Facebook page and follow him on Twitter at @ES_Hanley.

Elisha A. Tilghman