First Milwaukee-area Dave’s Hot Chicken restaurant will open next year in Menomonee Falls

Roaring Fork plans to open 14 locations in Wisconsin

Photo credit: Dave's Hot Chicken

Last updated on December 2nd, 2021 at 01:17 pm

The first Milwaukee-area Dave’s Hot Chicken restaurant will be located at the Whitestone Station development in Menomonee Falls.

The new Dave’s Hot Chicken will open up in the former Grate Pizza, Mac & More (formerly called Grate Mac & Cheese) space.

Ron Stokes, president of Milwaukee-based Roaring Fork Restaurant Group, said his group plans to open the Dave’s Hot Chicken restaurant there on Jan. 27. It will begin hiring employees in about two weeks.

Roaring Fork will open 14 Dave’s locations throughout the state, including in Milwaukee, Racine, Kenosha and elsewhere. It recently signed a franchise deal with the Los Angeles-based fast casual chain.

Dave’s specializes in Nashville-style hot chicken, including tenders and sliders. It started as a parking lot pop-up in 2017. It has 36 locations open or in development in the U.S. and Canada, and will open another 30-40 locations this year.

“We’re excited about the first one, and assuming that Milwaukee takes to it like other communities have, we’re excited about growing that brand throughout the state,” Stokes said of the planned Dave’s Hot Chicken location in Menomonee Falls.

Online marketing materials from Mid-America Real Estate Wisconsin revealed the Dave’s Hot Chicken location. Mid-America is advertising the vacant retail space next door for lease.

Roaring Fork operated two Grate locations, in Menomonee Falls and Greenfield. Both locations closed on Nov. 15, according to the restaurant’s Facebook page.

Stokes said the Grate location in Greenfield, at the 84South development, will not reopen as a Dave’s Hot Chicken.

However, Roaring Fork might open a Dave’s Hot Chicken in Greenfield at a different spot.

State records show an affiliate of the restaurant group in October purchased a roughly 1-acre lot at 6269 S. 27th St. for $695,000. It is an outlot of a shopping center northeast of South 27th Street and West College Avenue.

Stokes said that site could become either a Qdoba or a Dave’s Hot Chicken restaurant. Roaring Fork has not made a final determination, he said. He declined to share other potential Dave’s Hot Chicken locations.

Led by Stokes and Mike Pranke, Roaring Fork is the largest Qdoba franchise in the country, with 58 stores across Wisconsin, Illinois and Iowa.

Dave’s Hot Chicken announced its intent to enter the Wisconsin market in late March. This is part of larger plans to gain a foothold in the Midwest.

Whitestone Station is a 65-acre development along I-41 and includes a Costco, a TJ Maxx and other restaurants and retailers, the hotel, a Wisconsin Athletic Club and Froedtert Health sports medicine and fitness facility, and 318 apartments. It may also get a 103-room SpringHill Suites by Marriott hotel.

Other restaurants at Whitestone Station include Café Zupas, Firehouse Subs, Olive Garden and Mr. Brews Taphouse.

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Alex Zank, former BizTimes Milwaukee reporter.

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