The legacy continues: YaYa’s BBQ Shack still feeding Louisvillians two months after David McAtee’s death

David McAtee was shot and killed on June 1, and his family has vowed to keep his business afloat after his death.
Published: Jul. 27, 2020 at 10:54 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - On 26th Street and Broadway in West Louisville, the unmistakable smell of barbecue is in the air mixed with a lingering, unmistakable feeling of sadness.

“I miss him every day.,” Delores McAtee said. “YaYa, my brother.”

Monday, Delores McAtee was at YaYa’s BBQ Shack thinking about the business her brother David built from the ground up.

“I remember when my brother David first got started he was on the sidewalk here,” McAtee said. “And he built it from the sidewalk to the building. So I’m proud of him right there. He kept it moving.”

As she spoke to WAVE 3 News, McAtee was watching her son Marvin pick up where David left off. Since his uncle’s death, Marvin McAtee assumed the role of the ‘BBQ Man,’ taking over the day-to-day operations of the restaurant in an attempt to keep his uncle’s 53-year-old legacy alive.

“We did so many nights of just me and him in there just talking about ‘what if’ happens, and never ever [had] we thought if ‘what if’ would happen,” Marvin McAtee said. “And now I’m put in this situation because it did happen.”

David McAtee was shot and killed in the early morning hours of June 1.

A statewide investigation revealed McAtee fired two shots in the direction of law enforcement. Louisville Metro Police officers and Kentucky National Guardsmen returned fire. Secretary of the Executive Cabinet J. Michael Brown said McAtee was struck once by a bullet that came from one of the guardsmen’s rifles.

“It was an incident that happened, that shouldn’t have happened,” Marvin McAtee said. “And I have to accept that too. But as far as anything, I just want the legacy to stay strong as it’s going. That’s all I want.”

Since his death, David McAtee’s name has been spoken by protesters across Louisville.

His family said he had an infectious smile and was willing to feed anyone who needed a meal, police included.

“I see his pictures,” Delores McAtee said. “I see what they’re doing, and I’m protesting with them. And it ain’t nothing but love for him.”

Nearly sixty days later, the McAtee’s are still dealing with the pain of their loss, but are sticking together to find peace.

“He really wanted me to be the backbone if something happened, not in a death way, but anything,” Marvin McAtee said. “And now it’s like I have to pick that pace up, and I don’t have time to let nobody see me hurt, you know what I’m saying? I have to be strong. I can’t be hurt right now. I can be hurt two years from now, but right now I can’t be hurt.”

Marvin McAtee told WAVE 3 News he has plans to expand YaYa’s BBQ Shack. Though plans are not finalized, he said he wants to use the parking lot adjacent to the restaurant as a community space.

The Ky. Sec. of Executive Cabinet J. Michael Brown gave an update on the investigation into the deadly shooting of a West Louisville restaurant owner.

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