Ashley’s Que Grill & Bistro is expected to open within the next two weeks at the food court in the Eleven25 at the Pabst complex, 1125 N. 9th St.
The restaurant, an offshoot of the popular Ashley's Bar-B-Que at 1501 W. Center St., will be located in the unit formerly occupied by Upper Crust Pizza. Other restaurants in the space include Gouda Girls, Huan Xi Express, Tokyo Express and Bread House and Meat on the Street.
Darnell Ashley, who owns the restaurant with his son, Jazzmon Hughes, says they’ve streamlined the menu to accommodate the new space.
Ashley’s will serve some barbecue at the new location, he says, primarily pulled pork and beef brisket. But there will also be sandwiches, including a shrimp po’boy and the popular Prince sandwich, featuring steak, lamb, cucumber sauce, mixed peppers, mayonnaise, fried onions and shredded cheese. They will also serve up the "Wholedamnfarm burger," featuring a beef patty with pulled pork, bacon, a fried egg and lettuce and tomato.
A mainstay at the location will be a soul food buffet with fried chicken and pork chops, smothered pork chops, greens, macaroni and cheese, yams, homemade mashed potatoes and gravy. Cost for the buffet will be $12.49 for two meats and two sides.
It’s a great move for the barbeque restaurant, which has been in operation since 1961. Started by former A. O. Smith employee Thomas Ashley, the barbecue Ashley’s Bar-B-Que started out at a location near Haymarket Square before moving to 34th Street and then to the restaurant’s current location on Center Street. And Hughes, who represents the third-generation of family ownership, says he's eager to carry on the barbeque tradition and introduce it to a new audience.
"We’re excited to be able to serve our food to more people," notes Hughes. "The location presents a whole different demographic. There are graduate students living right in the building. Plus, there’s so much excitement with the new Pabst Brewery and the arena being built. It’s a really exciting place to be."
More locations on the way?
The good news comes in the wake of months of tough luck for the longtime Milwaukee barbecue restaurant. First, it was a drug-related accident. Over Labor Day weekend, a car drove straight through the cinderblock at the Center Street location, causing $37,000 worth of damage to the east side of the restaurant.
"We were so blessed," notes Ashley. "The City of Milwaukee broke their backs to help us. They allowed us to put up a temporary wall to get us back in business. So we were only closed for three days."
Two fires followed. In October, fire broke out at the Center Street location, forcing the restaurant to close for six months before reopening in March. In February, Ashley’s Que, 124 W. National Ave., was the victim of a two-alarm fire, which forced the location to close indefinitely.
Hughes says they’d love to reopen at the Walker’s Point location; however there’s quite a bit of uncertainty about whether or not that will be possible.
In the meantime, Ashley says they’re actively scouting for locations where they can re-establish a full-service bar and restaurant.
"I cannot wait to open another bar and restaurant," says Ashley. "It really has always been my dream. Making people happy with the art of food is really gratifying. And being able to give people the full experience is something we really enjoy."
"Here [at Center Street] the day to day is more transactional," adds Hughes. "But when you have a restaurant space, there’s an opportunity to develop relationships. That interaction with people, our ability to host meetings for organizations, that’s something we really miss."
In the meantime, you can get your barbecue fix at Ashley's Bar-B-Que on Center, or have it delivered to your doorstep via UberEats. Hours are Tuesday through Thursday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to midnight and Sunday from noon to 7 p.m.
Lori is an avid cook whose accrual of condiments and spices is rivaled only by her cookbook collection. Her passion for the culinary industry was birthed while balancing A&W root beer mugs as a teenage carhop, fed by insatiable curiosity and fueled by the people whose stories entwine with each and every dish. She’s had the privilege of chronicling these tales via numerous media, including OnMilwaukee and in her book “Milwaukee Food.” Her work has garnered journalism awards from entities including the Milwaukee Press Club.
When she’s not eating, photographing food, writing or recording the FoodCrush podcast, you’ll find Lori seeking out adventures with her husband Paul, traveling, cooking, reading, learning, snuggling with her cats and looking for ways to make a difference.