Funky Fresh closing Sherman Phoenix restaurant, eyes national distribution

TrueMan McGee
TrueMan McGee

Last updated on May 15th, 2023 at 12:13 pm

This Saturday, on the 10-year anniversary of the creation of Funky Fresh Spring Rolls, founder TrueMan McGee will be marking another major milestone for the company.

He announced earlier this week the closure of the Funky Fresh Spring Rolls restaurant within the Sherman Phoenix Marketplace in Milwaukee as the company goes all in on expanding its wholesale partnerships.

“I believe that Funky Fresh can be the next big thing in grocery stores and now we have the opportunity to do that,” said McGee. “I’m putting all my energy into becoming a national brand.”

Funky Fresh is currently transitioning out of its space in the Sherman Phoenix and this week will be the last time the company serves hot food.

“The Sherman Phoenix did exactly what the Sherman Phoenix was supposed to do. It’s supposed to help businesses grow and then they go,” said McGee.

His company’s growth within the last year, particularly the frozen products, helped drive the decision to move on.

“This has been something that’s been on my mind for a while. My plan in life was always to be a frozen foods manufacturer. Opening a restaurant was actually never in my long-term plans,” said McGee.

McGee founded Funky Fresh in 2013, after he had been laid off in 2012 from his job as a construction worker. He became extremely health conscious and while working as personal trainer, began developing healthy but good-tasting meals for himself and his clients. He made spring rolls, starting with a black bean and sweet potato variety.

At the start of 2022, Milwaukee-based frozen pizza manufacturer Palermo Villa, Inc. acquired a majority stake in Funky Fresh Spring Rolls. The deal was made so Palermo’s could help the company expand distribution.

Once the Palermo’s acquisition took place, McGee saw it as a sign to move back toward his original vision of frozen food manufacturing.

At this year’s BizTimes Media M&A Forum, held in April, McGee and Palermo’s leadership shared their vision for continuing to grow the Funky Fresh brand. Right now, Funky Fresh products are in about 150 stores.

McGee said there are several conversations in the works with national retailers but was not able to share names at this time.

“We want to be one of the next big companies to come out of Wisconsin like Johnsonville or Sargento,” said McGee. “In the next year I’d like to be a national brand.”

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Ashley covers startups, technology and manufacturing for BizTimes. She was previously the managing editor of the News Graphic and Washington County Daily News. In past reporting roles, covering education at The Waukesha Freeman, she received several WNA awards. She is a UWM graduate. In her free time, Ashley enjoys watching independent films, tackling a new recipe in the kitchen and reading a good book.

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