A local food trailer owner with three decades in the restaurant business is hoping to turn a historic farmhouse on Greenfield’s north side into a community gathering location, where folks can grab a cup of coffee, enjoy a pulled pork sandwich or shop for antiques.
Craig Mengeling, who owns and operates two food trailers – The Hard Wood Café and The Wurst Wagon – in Milwaukee, wants to purchase the nearly 150-year-old farmhouse at the corner of Forest Home Avenue and Morgan Avenue in Greenfield.
The half-acre lot at 5225 W. Forest Home Ave. would serve multiple purposes, according to a proposal Mengeling has prepared for . The farmhouse, which was built in 1865 but is not on a state or national registry of historic places, would house a food preparation kitchen for Mengeling’s wagons, a catering office and living space.
“The property has a romance about it that we have always looked for,” Mengeling said.
Another building on the lot would serve as an antique refurbishing and sales shop. The food trailers would be stored on the grounds and potentially opened for business, depending on demand.
Mengeling and his wife Deb are also interested in purchasing the adjacent lot at 5215 Forest Home, which also has a vintage building. That land and farmhouse, built in 1848, would be converted to a small coffee shop and a craft and antique shop.
The farmhouses are located just across the street from and just blocks away from .
“We’re looking to build a little community place where people come, sit and have a cup of coffee and enjoy life and get to know each other,” Mengeling said. “The place lends itself extremely well to that.”
The second phase of the proposal would also include an outdoor garden restaurant where the Mengelings would serve a Door County-style fish boil and deep fried chicken two to three nights a week, May through October, according to meeting notes.
The Mengelings owned and operated a food truck in Florida for several years. Two years ago, they came to Milwaukee and built The Hard Wood Café, where they sell pulled pork and other pork products out of a trailer designed after a Romanian gypsy wagon.
“So far it’s been a lot of fun,” Mengeling said. “If the city (Greenfield) allows us to use the streets like we do in Milwaukee, we’d hopefully vend in the area. With our background, we can do anything from sandwiches to gourmet food.”
Mengeling said preserving the historical significance of the farmhouses is of the utmost importance to him and his wife.
“That was one of the things when I met with (Community Development Manager) Chuck (Erickson), he said, ‘I know that you’ve got to make certain changes to make a business successful, but we’d hope you’d keep as much intact as possible,” Mengeling said. “It will never change much.”