Sophie Bolich

Troublemakers’ Cocina To Open at Central Waters

Mobile Mexican food vendor would operate a quick-service restaurant inside the brewery.

By - Oct 25th, 2022 03:58 pm
Bar at Central Waters Brewing Co. Photo taken in 2017 by Jeramey Jannene.

Bar at Central Waters Brewing Co. Photo taken in 2017 by Jeramey Jannene.

Troublemakers’ Cocina, a mobile kitchen and caterer known for its Mexican-fusion cuisine, is planning to open a quick-service restaurant inside of Central Waters Brewing Co., 1037 W. Juneau Ave.

The new restaurant follows on the heels of Dairyland Old-Fashioned Frozen Custard and Hamburgers, which departed from Central Waters brewery in early October after operating for a little over a year in the space.

In the interim, Central Waters has been hosting a rotation of food trucks and pop-ups to keep guests’ appetites in check. But likely not for much longer, as Troublemakers’ Cocina owners Martin Magaña, Arnie Gonzales and Dillon Knight aim to open the restaurant as soon as possible, according to a license application recently filed with the city.

Magaña, Gonzales and Knight initially started Troublemakers’ Cocina as a pop-up, hosting monthly beer pairing dinners at Bay View‘s The Sugar Maple, 441 E. Lincoln Ave.

The owners debuted the Troublemakers’ Cocina food truck earlier this year, which went on to make appearances throughout the summer at the Milwaukee Night Market and several local breweries for special events.

Thus, the new venture won’t be Troublemakers’ first experience working with a brewery, or even with Central Waters — the food truck recently made an appearance at the brewery on Saturday, Oct. 22, serving tacos, loaded fries and more ahead of the Milwaukee Bucks home opener.

Gonzales said he and his partners plan to operate the restaurant at Central Waters throughout the Bucks season and beyond.

“We’re really excited. Not only is this a great opportunity, but I get to work again with a lot of my friends,” Gonzales said.

Once the restaurant opens, it will still be business as usual for the food truck, said Gonzales, explaining that he and his partners hope to pivot the business structure towards more private events and catering with the truck, with a renewed emphasis on beer pairings at the Central Waters location.

Before joining forces, each of the owners gained extensive experience in the Milwaukee food scene.

Magaña’s credits include a stint as executive chef at Tess, where he spent eight years before leaving to launch his own restaurant, Frida, which operated at Crossroads Collective until its closure in 2020.

Gonzales was previously executive sous chef for GoodCity Brewing, as well as the former executive chef for Black Sheep and catering chef for Milwaukee Art Museum, The Bartolotta Group and The Ambassador Hotel.

Knight previously worked at Ugly’s Pub and Black Sheep.

“I’m glad I’ve been a chef for as long as I have been,” said Gonzales, who balances his work as a chef and business owner with being a dad. “Because this is definitely a lot of different things…it’s always a constant juggling act.”

He added, “this is just a dream come true for myself. This is something that I’ve always wanted to do, and teaming up with Dillon and Martin, we just can’t wait to get in there.”

Troublemakers’ menu lists more than 20 options for small bites, tacos, loaded fries and entrees, as well as a kids menu.

Gonzales said the new restaurant will offer many of the same items, with the addition of several new creations from the owners.

“We’re just going to have a little bit of an elevated menu, maybe a couple more entrees,” Gonzales said. “A lot more of like the gourmet and foodie things that we can put on plates rather than disposables,” he added.

Popular options from Troublemakers’ include the Beef Birria Egg Rolls, Street Corn Fries, Chicken Tinga Tostada and The Troublemakers’ Burger, which includes Mexican chorizo, bacon jalapeno blueberry chutney, menonita cheese and ancho-guajillo aioli —all piled atop a pan dolce bun, highlighting the restaurant’s emphasis on unexpected pairings.

Once open, Troublemakers’ Cocina would serve tap room guests Monday through Wednesday from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m., Thursday from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. until 8 p.m.

Central Waters opened in its Milwaukee location in fall 2021, replacing the Captain Pabst Pilot House. The church-turned-brewery was originally built in 1872.

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