By Lori Fredrich Senior Food Writer, Dining Editor, Podcast Host Published May 08, 2023 at 7:06 PM

After nearly five years, the Funky Fresh restaurant at Sherman Phoenix Marketplace, 3536 W. Fond Du Lac Ave., will be ceasing operations on Saturday, May 13.  That’s the anniversary of the very day, one decade ago, that McGee sold his first spring roll. 

And while fans should stop in to grab their last hot, nourishing meal from McGee, they shouldn't be sad about the transition, which is both a milestone for Funky Fresh Spring Rolls and an opportunity for a new entrepreneur to meet with the same success.

Funky Fresh at Sherman Phoenix
Funky Fresh at Sherman Phoenix Marketplace in 2023.

The hustle

It's been a busy decade for TrueMan McGee, an entrepreneur who has earned his success through years of hustling, setting goals and pursuing those goals.

Over the years, McGee has sold his popular Funky Fresh Spring Rolls at farmer’s markets and festivals, launched his first brick and mortar inside the Shops of Grand Avenue in 2018 and then relaunched his brand later that year at the Sherman Phoenix Marketplace. In 2022, he partnered with Palermo Villa to expand the distribution and salsa of his popular frozen spring rolls.

The first Funky Fresh stall at Sherman Phoenix in 2018
The first Funky Fresh stall at Sherman Phoenix in 2018.

That success, achieved through years of hard work, has led McGee to a professional crossroads, at which he has made the decision to focus his energy on the retail side of the business.

“I am choosing to focus my energy on making the Funky Fresh brand a national food brand and household name,” says McGee. “Our partnership with Palermo Villa, Inc. has allowed Funky Fresh to expand into over 150 grocery stores in Wisconsin and Illinois and we are looking to grow further!” 

All employees of the Funky Fresh restaurant have been offered employment from Palermo Villa, which will continue to work with McGee on advancing his brand in the marketplace.

“A true indicator of a business’ success is growth,” notes Giacomo Fallucca, President and Chairman of the Board for Palermo Villa. “And Funky Fresh Spring Rolls has seen tremendous growth since the sale of the first spring roll ten years ago. Palermo’s invested in Funky Fresh in 2022 because we saw the potential for the brand and wanted to partner with TrueMan to take Funky Fresh to the next level.”

Funky Fresh Spring Rolls packagingX

Currently, four varieties of Funky Fresh Spring Rolls (Buffalo Chicken and Kale; Chicken and Broccoli Mushroom; Chicken Club; and Sweet Potato and Black Bean) can be found at local grocers including Woodman's Food Markets, Sendik's Food Market and Outpost Natural Foods Cooperative for a suggested retail price of $9.99.

The future is wide open

“Sherman Phoenix was created as a business incubator with a grow-and-go model,” says said Dr. Stacia Thompson, Executive Director of the Sherman Phoenix Foundation. “We’re incredibly proud of what TrueMan has been able to accomplish with Funky Fresh Spring Rolls and he will remain a part of the Sherman Phoenix family. He will now join the ranks of other alum who have transitioned and expanded their business beyond their footprint in our marketplace. He will continue to serve as a mentor and inspiration to the next generation of the Sherman Phoenix family.” 

The Sherman Phoenix Marketplace
The Sherman Phoenix Marketplace

Thompson notes that the success of Sherman Phoenix Marketplace and the business owners within is directly related to support from corporate partners and entrepreneurial leaders like McGee.

“We are excited for the time, talent, and resources to continue to flow in. The support is changing the business trajectory for so many. The time is now to join us on the journey, as we approach our 5th year anniversary this November." she says.

"There are some amazing opportunities that will soon be unveiled, that you won’t want to miss. 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.”

Lori Fredrich Senior Food Writer, Dining Editor, Podcast Host

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.