This weekend marks the grand opening of Milwaukee Sausage Company, which will officially open its doors at 1200 Milwaukee Ave. in South Milwaukee.
And folks who can appreciate an eye for flavor, and a legacy of craft, might just want to take a trip to check it out. After all, if the crowds at last weekend’s soft opening were any indication, there’s some serious excitement surrounding this newcomer to the food scene.
Like so many families on Milwaukee’s South Side, Mark Maciejewski grew up making sausage. His family recipe for Polish sausages has been passed down through the generations for more than 60 years.
"We made it at Christmas and Easter," he says. "So it was a special occasion sausage. But, at some point I realized we had all this equipment, and we could make other things. One year I went deer hunting, and a good buddy suggested I make venison sausage. From there, I kept experimenting. And over the years, making sausage turned from a hobby into an obsession."
It prompted Maciejewski to research ways to make his passion into a business.
He had a few false starts along the way. However, he also met his current partner in crime: sausage maker and general manager, Jeff Marquardt (pictured on left), whose experience includes work with Kettle Range Meats and Birch + Bucher. The two hit it off, and Marquardt expressed an interest in being part of a nascent sausage company.
"The vision he had fit with what I wanted from the next chapter of my career," says Marquardt. "I’ve always been about really learning as much as I can, and I found myself really wanting to hone in on the meat craft. So this provided me with the opportunity I was looking for."
From there, Maciejewski took the leap. He purchased the building on the corner of Milwaukee and 12th Avenues, gutted it, and added a commercial production kitchen (which passed state inspections on the very first try).
As they went along, he also managed to preserve the shop’s original tin ceilings, as well as a few other historic details.
All those details will be on display during the grand opening of the shop, which will take place on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Among the sausages from which to choose, you'll find:
- Maciejewski Polish Sausage: made from a long-held family recipe
- Hot Italian: the traditional with a bit more kick
- Bratwurst: The Wisconsin standard
- Chorizo: This pork-based sausage is savory and spicy and inspired by Miguel Avila, a good friend Maciejewski says introduced him to the concept of "chorizo and eggs."
- Chicken chorizo: This version is not the same as the pork sausage. The heat is dialed back and it contains agave instead of sugar.
- The Stella: a fresh breakfast sausage made with real maple syrup. It’s named for Maciejewski’s oldest daughter, Stella, who created this recipe after just 12 tries.
- The Sophia: a sausage modeled after the Cubano sandwich (and named for Maciejewski’s middle daughter). It’s got dill pickles, ham, Swiss cheese and Dijon mustard.
- The Olivia: This is a sweet and spicy unsmoked hot-link style sausage that’s sweet on the front with some kick on the back end. It’s named for Maciewjewski’s youngest daughter.
- The A-A-Ron: a Buffalo chicken sausage featuring spicy marinated ground chicken and crumbled blue cheese. This sausage was born when Aaron Henderson challenged Maciejewski to make a sausage using the flavors of his favorite wing sauce recipe.
- The Southsider: An ordinary Italian sausage spiffed up with mozzarella cheese, canned mushrooms and onions to taste an awful lot like a Little DeMarini’s pizza.
In addition, there will be plenty of giveaways. If that's not enough, Wolfgang Schaefer and Joe Singer of Wolfie’s Breakfast Tavern will be bringing down their food cart and serving up Milwaukee Sausage Company sausages.
Maciejewski says that, moving forward, they will be adding a number of sausages to the line-up, including smoked varieties like Andouille, summer sausage and snack sticks. They will also carry supplies that home sausage-makers can use to carry on the craft.
"We make sausage, but we also want to be really supportive of people who are doing the same," he says. "This is all about community. We’re here to share with folks who really care about sausage making. We’ll carry casings, bulk pork shoulder and spices. We’re also planning on custom making sausage for folks who’d like it. There will be a 10-pound minimum, but we’ll make it for you."
He says he expects they will also host both sausage-making and whole hog butchering classes. And they've already begun lining up a number of wholesale restaurant clients who are eager to purchase their sausages.
Maciejewski says Milwaukee Sausage Company has been an endeavor that has assisted in transforming his entire life.
"This isn’t work," says Maciejewski. "It’s a passion. And it’s fun. The concept of being able to really leave something behind for my daughters … that’s also really, really powerful."
Milwaukee Sausage Company will be open Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Moving forward, their tentative hours are Wednesday through Friday from 3 to 7 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 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.