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Funky Fresh Spring Rolls will soon have its first own place to make and sell its non-traditional gourmet spring rolls when it moves into a ground floor retail space in downtown Milwaukee's Shops at Grand Avenue.
Owner Trueman McGee launched the concept in 2015 and has since been selling his spring rolls-- now available in 12 flavors-- at area farmers markets and events. Funky Fresh is one of 12 black-owned small businesses
that will move into the Sherman Phoenix
-- a center for local entrepreneurs, slated open in September in a former BMO Harris Bank branch in Sherman Park that was burned during civic unrest in 2016.
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Grand Avenue Mall[/caption]
The Grand Avenue mall space, which formerly housed Milwaukee-based Wild Flour Bakery, will serve as the restaurant's home base until Sherman Phoenix opens, McGee said. Funky Fresh currently uses MKE Kitchen, a shared commercial kitchen in Williamsburg Heights, for its food production.
"There is a lot of vacant restaurant space in the mall and we thought it would be a neat opportunity for us to lease a space from them," he said. "We will be able to have a solid location to tell our following where we are, sell more food, and have a place to mass produce."
Funky Fresh will open the Grand Avenue location as early as May 1 to serve its selection of spring rolls that are baked or grilled and filled with nutritious ingredients, including buffalo chicken and kale, sweet potato and black bean, and chicken curry and quinoa. It will also serve other items including its Mean Green Salad, stuffed turkey burgers, and quinoa bowls.
With an affordable lease and a ready-equipped kitchen, from the previous tenant, the Grand Avenue space, McGee said, is a perfect fit for the growing business that sold 20,000 spring rolls in 2015, 32,000 in 2016 and over 42,000 in 2017.
Trueman said he hopes to eventually operate two Funky Fresh locations-- one at the Sherman Phoenix and one at Grand Avenue when it opens a ground floor food hall as part of redevelopment initiative
. In 2106, The mall’s ownership group, Milwaukee-based Aggero Group LLC and Minneapolis-based Hempel Cos., unveiled a $65 million plan for the mall after purchasing it in December 2015. In addition to the food hall, the redevelopment plan for the downtown mall also includes up to 120,000 square feet of office space on the second and third floors, eliminating the current food court.
Trueman said he hopes moving into the mall now will provide an opportunity to later be apart of the food hall when it opens. The Grand Avenue shop will operate until October, when ground floor construction work for the mall's redevelopment project could begin, he said, but by then the Sherman Phoenix should be open and Funky Fresh will have another home.