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A silo and a barn doesn't necessarily fit in downtown Waukesha, but, with some changes to its plans, the Mad Rooster Cafe, a country-themed restaurant, could still make its way into the urban setting near downtown's riverfront.

The city of Waukesha Plan Commission has given preliminary approval for a site plan for Mad Rooster Cafe to revitalize and make additions to a vacated Hardees restaurant at 130 NW Barstow St.

"It's going to be a nice facelift for that section of the city, but it needs to blend in more with the urban feel of the city," Commissioner Mike Payne said at the commission's meeting on Wednesday, March 9. "I think that can be accomplished with working with the city."

Architectural concerns

Originally, the architect for the eatery, which would be located between East St. Paul Avenue and Bank Street and to the west of the state office buildings, presented a plan that included a silo, gables and barnlike architecture.

The proposals were similar to what is seen at the Mad Rooster Cafe's site in West Milwaukee at 4401 W. Greenfield Ave., along Miller Park Way.

But City Planner Maria Pandazi said staff quickly sought changes to the building's architectural elements.

The silo and barn-style masonry have been removed from the plans, but gables on all four sides of the building are still part of the plan.

"We're a little concerned about that," Pandazi said.

Pandazi also said more landscaping also needs to be added to the property to meet the city's 5 percent landscaping requirements around the site.

Commissioner RG Keller said he would like it if the facade of the building and overall exterior is restudied.

An architectural review of the property will come before the plan commission at a later date.

Alan Huelsman, who owns the property, didn't think the proposed changes would be an issue.

While the architect of the property said the restaurant's goal is bring a facility that has a "barn style," it would work with city staff to present something that better fits the area.


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What's inside?

Besides the exterior changes, the inside would undergo a massive renovation and expansion.

The restaurant would seat about 212 in the restaurant and another 24 in an enclosed patio. That would be made possible with a 1,699-square-foot addition on the north side of the property and another 1,200-square-foot addition on the east side for the entrance.

As a result, the drive-through from the former Hardees will be removed from the building, which will now increase in size to about 7,000 square feet.

Owner Andreas Bouraxis, who also owns El Fuego and El Beso Mexican restaurants in the Milwaukee area, said the restaurant will employ about 30 people.

A majority of the food items, according to its menu, are breakfast-related. Items include an omelet selection, eggs Benedict options, pancakes, and Mad Rooster originals such as the crispy-crunchy cinnamon French toast, morning tacos, chilaquiles, chicken chorizo and eggs, and three pigs in a blanket.

The cafe, which would only be open for breakfast and lunch, also offers waffle plates, sandwiches (including the popular breakfast burger) and hand-tossed salads. It also makes its own Greek yogurt.

Revitalizing corner

Huelsman said he was very excited to have Mad Rooster Cafe interested in coming to Waukesha.

"They have a great restaurant," Huelsman said. "It would be great to get this kind of business in our downtown. We could use some more breakfast options."

The Hardees restaurant has been vacant for more than two years, and a nearby antique mall was also torn down on a six-plus acre collection of properties, between Waukesha State Bank and Barstow Street and across from the city's transit center on East St. Paul Avenue, in the last couple of years.

While Alderwoman Joan Francoeur is pleased an applicant has come forward to bring new life to the property, she wants everything about the site to fit in and be authentic.

"How delightful to have an improvement at that site," she said. "We're delighted that you're coming here and that you're going to be in a prominent spot."

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