Colectivo Coffee owners kick up Ruckus in Shorewood

Michael Muckian, Contributing writer

The Ruckus, a new restaurant concept by the owners of Colectivo Coffee, serves real food that is ridiculously good.

Just ask co-founder Scott Schwebel.

“That’s one of our taglines,” says Schwebel, who helped open the casual eatery in Shorewood in late January. “The Ruckus is designed to offer a spicy twist on the classic burger and ice cream joint.”

The Ruckus is living up to its name, creating a stir among North Shore diners — and strong demand.

In response, the restaurant, 4144 N. Oakland Ave., extended its hours to include dinner service. It’s now open from 10:30 a.m to 10 p.m.

The Ruckus name helps define its approach to cuisine, Schwebel says. Latin American influences crop up everywhere in the brief menu, offering unusual takes on familiar foods designed to stir diners’ attention and challenge their taste buds.

“The name is a metaphor for the spicy influence on the food and the concept of ice cream served outside,” Schwebel says. “The Ruckus was conceived as the best expression possible of a warm summer day, conjuring up fun and nostalgia without taking itself too seriously.”

Behold The Ruckus

Schwebel and his partners had an eye on the property for some time and its availability helped spur them to action.

Now, Rizo the Penguin, the restaurant mascot, welcomes diners to an interior that is industrial chic. Clean lines, stainless steel and natural woods create a sleek, yet comfortable dining area for customers ordering their food from a central counter. Overhead doors can be opened to allow dining al fresco during the warmer months.

Rizo also is the namesake for one of the quarter-pound, custom-made burgers ($6.50) that consists of the restaurant’s signature pork chorizo/Black Angus beef patty blend topped with organic slaw, lettuce, tomato, salsa and a secret house sauce. The Ruckus signature burger ($9) is built on the same patty blend, but is topped with bacon, grilled pineapple, lettuce, tomato and sauce. Diners also can add a fried egg for $1. And the restaurant also features a vegetarian patty.

The menu also offers two different takes on grilled Usinger hot dogs ($4.50 and $6) and a grilled cheese sandwich served plain ($4) or dressed with bacon and tomato ($6).

The ice cream offerings include vanilla and chocolate soft-serve “spun daily” for shakes, floats and “Saturdaes” rather than sundaes. The spiciness pops up here, too, with an ice cream shake made with spiced fudge and Mexican chocolate crumbles.

The Ruckus also serves churros, handmade Mexican desserts rolled in cinnamon and sugar and offered with a choice of handmade dipping sauces.

“We also serve beer so mom and dad can get beers with their burgers,” Schwebel says. “We want this restaurant to have something for kids, grownups and everyone in between.”

Tosa Ruckus coming

The public response has been strong enough for the partners to plan a second Ruckus in Wauwatosa. The company already purchased the property at 8334 W. North Ave., home to the former Tosa Gas filling station, and remediation of the property from its status as a former brownfield has been completed and was awaiting DNR approval at press time.

“The gas station had been closed for some time and we knew the property would continue to spiral into blight if someone didn’t take it over,” Schwebel says. “We’re attracted to complicated properties.”

Schwebel doesn’t know when the next Ruckus will open, but he does know what’s next for Colectivo Coffee: the company’s first cafe outside of Wisconsin.

“There are 16 Colectivo outlets between Milwaukee and Madison, and our 17th one will be in … Chicago,” Schwebel says of the coffee house opening at Clark and Deming in the North Side neighborhood of Lincoln Park. “We anticipate that it will open in late spring.”

Despite what seems like a rapid growth mode, Schwebel says the combined enterprises of the company — co-owned by Schwebel and partners Lincoln Fowler, Ward Fowler and Paul Miller — represent a deliberate and deliberated process.

“We constantly like to innovate and challenge ourselves, but it’s measured growth and we can only grow so far so fast,” he says.

The Ruckus

Where: 4144 N. Oakland Ave., Shorewood

When: Daily, 10:30 a.m.–10 p.m.

Telephone: 414-210-3408

On the web: ruckusburger.com