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Historic Farmhouses Could be Converted to Shops, Catering Office

Craig Mengeling, who owns and operates two food trailers in Milwaukee, wants to purchase two nearly 150-year-old farmhouses at the corner of Forest Home Avenue and Morgan Avenue in Greenfield.

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.”

Veronica Wallace-k August 10, 2012 at 12:47 PM
Great idea! I can picture my the Greenfield Glamour Girls (Grnfld. Park & Rec, Sr. Programs Red Hat group) hanging out on the porch, chatting and drinking coffee. None of us have porches anymore. We grew up with porches and we'd love to recreate those good times! Excellent idea!
Lee August 10, 2012 at 04:32 PM
It is still there. They close after Memorial day. They reopen in the fall for mums and pumpkins, and then again for Xmas. I bought my summer flowers there this year.
Karen August 10, 2012 at 04:37 PM
Thanks Lee....I thought I saw it vacant with a for sale sign hanging in front during a recent drive by. I must be confusing it with another place. Either way, I am happy to know that it still exists...and for the life of me I don't know what the name is. I send friends there simply by describing the location.
Patricia Anne August 10, 2012 at 08:55 PM
In as much as this property has been empty and for sale for several years, this sounds like a great idea for a viable neighborhood business and addition to the tax rolls. Go for it!!
John S. September 07, 2012 at 12:56 PM
Maybe the neighborhood should know more about this guy before embracing his plans. He has had a history of not paying rents and fighting the cities he works in. He's also been sued several times. Look into his history before making the decision!

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