The Ruckus, a new fast-casual restaurant from the owners of Colectivo, launched today at 4144 N. Oakland Ave. And if the line of onlookers present when the restaurant opened at 10:30 a.m. was any indication, Shorewood is in for something special.
In case you’re thinking The Ruckus is just another colorless burger joint, I’d like to offer you a preview of what you can expect. In the words of Anthony Michael Hall (Brian) during a scene in "The Breakfast Club": "Could you describe the ruckus, sir?"
Why, yes. Yes, I can.
First up, it’s difficult not to notice a few parallels between the aesthetic of Colectivo Coffee's locations and The Ruckus. However, it’s also clear that The Ruckus was designed with its very own brand in mind, not to mention a great deal of thought with regard to the audience it’ll be serving.
The space is family-friendly from head to toe. That includes premier changing stations in the restrooms, lower tables that accommodate families in the dining area and an interactive mascot, Rizzo the penguin, who was handcrafted by one of Colectivo’s favorite artists.
"It was specifically designed at a scale that it would be engaging for kids," says Scott Schwebel, vice president of brand, marketing and retail. "It’s not too tall. It’s meant for them to get up close and touch it.
"This was designed to be a community gathering place. And from a design standpoint, everything is totally custom, from the lights and furniture to the woodwork."
The interior space comprises a combination of stainless, zinc and wood. Meanwhile, the color palate combines classic black and white with a variety of colors that give the space a gigantic pop. Take, for instance, the menu boards and signage, which were designed by staff artist Kevin Callahan.
The restaurant – which includes garage doors that can be opened during clement weather – was also designed to be completely convertible, with a layout that creates interactivity between the inner workings of the restaurant and the pedestrians outdoors.
And because ice cream knows no season, The Ruckus is equipped with a relatively large patio to the south.
There's also a sheltered firepit that enables comfortable outdoor seating all year 'round.
And when it comes to the food being served, The Ruckus is quite a bit more than its humble "burgers and ice cream joint" reputation might suggest.
"We thoughtfully considered every detail – from where we get the meat to how we blend it," says Schwebel. "And that extends to the sauces and slaws, along with our ice cream, which is custom blended by Meadowvale Dairy using milk from Sassy Cow Creamery and custom ingredients like Tahitian vanilla."
On the burger side of things, The Ruckus offers up classic smashed burgers enhanced with a proprietary seasoning blend that sets them apart from the crowd.
Even the "Classic" burger made with an all-beef patty, cheddar, lettuce, tomato, pickles, grilled onions, ketchup and mustard ($5.75) is a pretty delicious creation.
Rustic-cut fries ($3) are double fried for crunch and hit with a flavorful blast of sea salt.
And then there's the "Ruckus" burger ($9), which is made with a flavorful blended pork chorizo and beef patty, grilled pineapple, lettuce, tomato, salsa and house sauce. Yeah, it's pretty delicious.
For those looking for an alternative to beef, the rooster ($6.50) features a custom ground picante-grilled chicken patty served up with slaw, lettuce and tomato.
The house sauce, by the way, deserves its own accolades. The extra-thick blend of mayonnaise, picante sauce, lime salt and pepper is delicious with Ruckus’ burgers; however, it’s also fantastic as a dipping sauce for fries.
On the sweeter side, there’s plenty to enjoy beyond cups and cones of ice cream. Take for instance the "Two Tone" signature shake that incorporates vanilla ice cream, spiced fudge and Mexican chocolate crumble. It’s pretty darned good.
The churros aren’t a bad choice, either, especially when you pair them with spiced fudge or salted caramel dipping sauce. They're ultra crispy on the exterior, a bit creamy inside and coated with a spicy blend of sugary cinnamon.
You’ll also get a churro bite or two when you order the Saturdae ($5) ice cream with your choice of toppings. Take this specimen for example, the topped cowboy cookie crumble.
In the end, Schwebel says, it’s about giving people a little bit of nostalgia and whole lot of good memories.
"The name is a metaphor for all those things – the food, the ice cream and the fun that comes along with it."
The Ruckus is open daily from 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Lori is an avid cook whose accrual of condiments and spices is rivaled only by her cookbook collection. Her passion for the culinary industry was birthed while balancing A&W root beer mugs as a teenage carhop, fed by insatiable curiosity and fueled by the people whose stories entwine with each and every dish. She’s had the privilege of chronicling these tales via numerous media, including OnMilwaukee and in her book “Milwaukee Food.” Her work has garnered journalism awards from entities including the Milwaukee Press Club.
When she’s not eating, photographing food, writing or recording the FoodCrush podcast, you’ll find Lori seeking out adventures with her husband Paul, traveling, cooking, reading, learning, snuggling with her cats and looking for ways to make a difference.