The Mad Rooster Cafe is one step closer to becoming a fixture in an old Hardee's on a prominent corner just north of downtown Waukesha.
The city's plan commission June 8 unanimously approved preliminary site and architectural plans for the project, a 7,000-square foot country-themed restaurant that will expand and heavily remodel the space vacated by the fast-food restaurant at 130 NW Barstow St.
The proposed plans still need to come before the commission for final approval, but city staff and commissioners seemed pleased with the latest iteration and called for further review of only a few items, such as lawn props that would be displayed on the building's east side.
'I think it's a great addition for that location downtown,' said Commissioner James Hoppe.
The Mad Rooster Cafe, if ultimately approved, would be situated between East St. Paul Avenue and Bank Street, west of the state office buildings that border the Fox River.
City Planner Maria Pandazi recommended preliminary approval of the latest plans for the project, which she said addressed a number of previous staff concerns, such as 'propped up' gables on all four sides of the building.
'We really feel like they've moved in the right direction,' Pandazi said of the plans, which no longer include the gables.
However, Pandazi suggested that commissioners approve the plans with conditions, one of them being that the owner consider outdoor dining.
That condition did not sit well with Mayor Shawn Reilly, the commission's chairman.
'I don't think the plan commission should be mandating outdoor dining,' he said. 'It's nice to have it, but if a restaurant doesn't want it there may be a whole lot of reasons why.
'Outdoor dining is very popular in Waukesha,' Reilly continued, 'but my opinion is that we shouldn't require it.'
Mad Rooster owner Andreas Bouraxis said he would consider it.
Prop or not
One component of the plans — the inclusion of rustic or country-themed lawn props on the restaurant's east side — did give commissioners, especially Reilly, some pause.
A rustic cistern and tractor sit outside Bouraxis's West Milwaukee Mad Rooster location at 4401 W. Greenfield Ave., along Miller Park Way. Those would not necessarily be the same props used at the Waukesha restaurant.
'I'm a little concerned about the yard props,' Reilly said, and asked that any proposed props be brought before the commission for approval.
Bouraxis assured commissioners that any props he would consider using would be 'vintage, not broken down equipment' and urged commissioners to at least keep the option of using props open.
According to planning documents, the building will undergo massive renovations.
The restaurant would seat about 212 inside and another 24 in an enclosed patio. That would be made possible by a 1,700-square-foot addition on the north side of the property and another 1,200-square-foot addition on the east side for the Mad Rooster's entrance.
As a result, the drive-through from the former Hardee's will be removed, which would increase the building's size to about 7,000 square feet.
Bouraxis, who also owns El Fuego and El Beso Mexican restaurants in suburban Milwaukee, has said that the Mad Rooster, which would only be open for breakfast and lunch, would employ about 30 people.
A majority of the food items, according to its menu, are breakfast-related.