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Greenfield farmhouse may again become food place

The Hard Wood Café concession wagon is one of two unique wagons Craig and Debbie Mengeling would like to park at 5225 W. Forest Home Ave. in Greenfield. The existing 1865 farmhouse on the site would at first become the headquarters for their concession and catering businesses, but could eventually be part of a garden restaurant.

The Hard Wood Café concession wagon is one of two unique wagons Craig and Debbie Mengeling would like to park at 5225 W. Forest Home Ave. in Greenfield. The existing 1865 farmhouse on the site would at first become the headquarters for their concession and catering businesses, but could eventually be part of a garden restaurant. Photo By Craig and Debbie Mengeling

Aug. 21, 2012

Greenfield - An 1865 farmhouse might find a new purpose as a 21st-century eatery that at first would house other food-related operations.

Craig Mengeling, of D.C. Capital Investments LLC of New Berlin, and his wife, Debbie, have a long-range vision of creating a 50- to 60-seat garden restaurant, serving Door County fish boil and mesquite chicken deep fry two or three nights a week, at the house.

The property, at 5225 W. Forest Home Ave., is already zoned for commercial use. But the farmhouse, most recently used as an office building, is currently vacant.

First-phase transformation

Craig Mengeling said the plan is to start small, at first turning part of the house into their business headquarters for their existing concession business and a catering office for clients. The Mengelings would live upstairs.

They also have plans to turn an outbuilding on the property into a small antique and furniture refurbishing center and sales shop.

The couple's concession business includes two uniquely designed trailers, the Hard Wood Café and Wurst Wagon, which sell food on the streets of Milwaukee and other communities at fairs and festivals. The couple wants to park the wagons on the land and assemble already prepared food in the farmhouse to sell in the wagons.

The food wagons also could be opened for business at the site periodically.

Looking further ahead

The couple also envisions a second phase that involves buying the also-vacant 1848 building next door, at 5215 W. Forest Home Ave, where the family would live, allowing them to make full use of the neighboring farmhouse for commercial purposes. That's when the outdoor garden restaurant could come along.

If the city allows the first phase, the second phase might take another year or two, he said.

The rest of the 1865 farmhouse might be converted to a small coffee shop enclosing the outside summer kitchen deck, with the rest of the lower level rooms offering crafts and antiques.

In their application to the city for a special-use permit, business operations would primarily be from May through October, and the couple would try to harmonize the business with the décor and charm of the original farmhouse.

Neighborly approach

To bring their plans to fruition, Mengeling said the couple would try to satisfy any concerns, including those of neighbors.

"You want them to be happy with whatever you do," he said of neighbors.

A hearing will be held on a permit for first phase sometime in late September or early October.

The Plan Commission last week gave the go-ahead for a public hearing. It also added a requirement that the wagons be screened from view, probably with a wooden fence.

- Jane Ford-Stewart

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