Sophie Bolich

Frankies Brings Global Cuisine to East Side

New restaurant uses family recipes, serves Caribbean, West African and American dishes.

By - Aug 9th, 2022 10:29 am
Frankies, 1815 E. Kenilworth Pl. Photo taken Aug. 8, 2022 by Jeramey Jannene.

Frankies, 1815 E. Kenilworth Pl. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

For Donna Aboagye, food has always been about family. And this holds true at her new restaurant, Frankies, which opened on the east side in June.

Like its neighbor, Fusion Poke, Frankies serves several different cuisines including West African, Caribbean and American.

The Lower East Side location, 1815 E. Kenilworth Pl., has been great, said Aboagye. Between operating the restaurant, catering business and food truck, she and her staff are busier than ever.

“This is actually a very good area for us,” she said. “And we’re really doing well.”

A native of Ghana, Aboagye said she grew up cooking with her mother and grandmother. Family recipes, passed down through generations, are the foundation of the menu at Frankies.

Aboagye still cooks with her mother, who makes Jamaican red beans and rice, Jollof rice and stews for the restaurant. “I know how to make them,” Aboagye said, “But if she’s here, I would rather she do it.”

Customers at Frankies are part of the family, too.

“[We are] very warm people, very friendly,” Aboagye said. “Customer service is good and that’s something we take pride in.”

When people think of Caribbean or African food, they often assume it’s going to be spicy, Aboagye said. “Honestly, our food is not spicy at all.”

Dishes can be made spicy upon request, but Aboagye said she leans into developing the true flavors of the food without over-spicing it.

“We make it in such a way that everyone who wants to try the cuisine is able to try it without having to worry about the heat,” she said.

Chicken, ribs and oxtail stew are all popular dishes, said Aboagye. The menu also includes suya chicken (grilled meat skewers seasoned with ground peanuts and spices), red snapper, southern fried chicken and hamburgers.

For sides, Joloff rice, sweet plantains, macaroni and cheese, cornbread and Kelewele (ginger-seasoned plantains) are just a few of many offerings.

The restaurant also has a Saturday-only menu, which requires pre-ordering. This menu includes Waakye (a Ghanaian rice and beans dish) with fish, beef and egg, red snapper and Kenkey (fermented corn dumpling) and fufu with soup.

Frankies originally started as a catering business, a side-project on top of Aboagye’s full-time job as a chemist. She called the business Frankies after her husband, Franklin.

Aboagye first ran the business out of her own kitchen, but graduated in 2016 to a brick-and-mortar in Oak Creek. That location closed when the business moved to a food court stall at Southridge Mall. In 2020, Aboagye launched a food truck for events. In search of a bigger kitchen for the expanding business, Aboagye started looking at spaces in Milwaukee, landing at the new east side location in 2021.

The 4,390-square-foot space was formerly occupied by Splash Studio, a paint and sip business. Aboagye renovated the entire space, adding an updated kitchen, chandeliers and new flooring, she said.

The dining room is divided in two, with one half serving as a banquet hall for private events. Aboagye said she has plans to add sidewalk dining in the near future.

Frankies is open Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Thursday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.

The food truck will continue to make regular appearances at events throughout Milwaukee and the surrounding cities. Food truck updates and locations are announced via the Frankies Facebook page.

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