Sophie Bolich

Funky Fresh Transitions to Wholesale

Closing its restaurant and concentrating on sales to over 150 grocery stores for its popular spring rolls.

By - May 9th, 2023 03:17 pm
Trueman McGee with package of spring rolls at a farmers' market. Photo from Funky Fresh.

Trueman McGee with package of spring rolls at a farmers’ market. Photo from Funky Fresh.

After a decade of selling non-traditional spring rolls and, more recently, veggie-loaded bowls, Funky Fresh Spring Rolls owner Trueman McGee is preparing to steer the brand in a new direction.

Funky Fresh will close its Sherman Phoenix restaurant on Saturday, May 13. Moving forward, McGee said he plans to focus his efforts on developing and growing the retail side of the business.

“I am choosing to focus my energy into making the Funky Fresh brand a national food brand and household name,” McGee said in a statement.

McGee built Funky Fresh from the ground up, launching the brand in his parents’ kitchen and selling product at farmers markets and festivals throughout the area. In 2018, he opened a restaurant at Sherman Phoenix, 3536 W. Fond du Lac Ave., where he offered a variety of hot rolls and fresh bowls, as well as pre-packaged and frozen rolls for at-home enjoyment.

Last year, Palermo Villa, Inc. — the parent company of frozen pizza giant Palermo’s Pizzapurchased a majority stake in Funky Fresh, aiming to expand the distribution and sale of the brand’s packaged spring rolls.

Together, the two Milwaukee companies created a subsidiary, Funky Villa, LLC. The partnership, according to McGee, has allowed Funky Fresh to expand into over 150 grocery stores in Wisconsin and Illinois.

“A true indicator of a business’ success is growth, and Funky Fresh Spring Rolls has seen tremendous growth since the sale of the first spring roll ten years ago,” said Giacomo Fallucca, president and chairman of the board for Palermo Villa, in a statement. “We saw the potential for the brand and wanted to partner with Trueman to take Funky Fresh to the next level.”

Packages of Funky Fresh spring rolls retail for a suggested price of $9.99 and are available in four flavors: Buffalo Chicken and Kale, Chicken and Broccoli Mushroom, Chicken Club and Sweet Potato and Black Bean.

They can be found in their recently-updated packaging at Woodman’s Food Market, Sendik’s Food Markets and Outpost Natural Foods, with additional stores to be added in 2024.

Amid changes to the business, those who previously worked at the Funky Fresh restaurant were offered employment from Palermo Villa.

The latest development places McGee among the ranks of numerous Sherman Phoenix alumni who have expanded beyond the “business incubator,” said Stacia Thompson, executive director of the Sherman Phoenix Foundation.

“He will continue to serve as a mentor and inspiration to the next generation of the Sherman Phoenix family,” Thompson said in a statement. “With this transition, there will be a new seed being planted in the vacated space at the Sherman Phoenix Marketplace. Palermo’s and Funky Fresh are both dedicated to helping that seed bloom.”

Funky Fresh will be open Tuesday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. through May 13.

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