Indian spice manufacturer could replace Monkey Joe’s in Waukesha

Harika Foods would also open restaurant, grocery store

Last updated on July 3rd, 2019 at 07:23 pm

Chicago-based Harika Foods wants to open an Indian grocery store, manufacturing and distribution facility and restaurant in the space currently occupied by Monkey Joe’s in Waukesha.

The nearly 17,000-square-foot facility at 2040 W. Bluemound Road is owned by an affiliate of VJS Development Group. Kalyan Thonukunuri, Harkia Foods president, said his company is in the process of buying the building and that Monkey Joe’s is on a month-to-month lease.

Jim Sedgwick, VJS Development Group vice president, confirmed the building is under contract for sale but said he could not provide any other details.

The project would be Harika’s second manufacturing and distribution facility and the first to combine production and a retail environment, Thonukunuri said, adding the three operations would employ around 30 people. Roughly 5,600 square feet would be used for manufacturing and warehousing, 3,800 square feet would be used for the restaurant and around 7,400 square feet would be for the grocery store.

Harika specializes in south Indian snacks, sweets and spice-mix powders. Thonukunuri already has retail operations in Schaumburg and Naperville, Illinois. Harika products are also distributed to Indian grocery stores throughout the country.

Thonukunuri said he was attracted to the Waukesha area and the Bluemound Road facility because of it offered a central location with higher levels of traffic and easy access to the highway. He also noted the area’s rising Indian population with many working at companies like GE Healthcare.

Waukesha County’s Asian Indian population has grown from around 1,800 in 2000 to 4,500 in 2010 and almost 5,500 as of 2015, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Harika has submitted plans to the city of Waukesha and is seeking a conditional use permit. The Plan Commission is scheduled to take up the proposal in June.

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Arthur covers banking and finance and the economy at BizTimes while also leading special projects as an associate editor. He also spent five years covering manufacturing at BizTimes. He previously was managing editor at The Waukesha Freeman. He is a graduate of Carroll University and did graduate coursework at Marquette. A native of southeastern Wisconsin, he is also a nationally certified gymnastics judge and enjoys golf on the weekends.

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