In the 1920s, the Shemwell brothers opened their first BBQ stand in Marion, Illinois. Sometime in the 1930s, the brothers split the cash. Cash Shemwell moved to Cairo and opened the first Shemwell's BBQ stand at 22nd and Sycamore. In 1946, he bought a building once used as a Laundry mat at 11th and Washington and moved his business there where it is still in operation today. Cash Shemwell retired in 1970 and his wife Francis ran the restaurant until 1977. At that time, son Darrell bought the business and is the present day proprietor along with his wife, Sue.