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Behind the Dream: Fuegos – Steak • Tapas • Vegan in Madison



Since 2004, Yelp has worked to connect millions of people to the best in local business. In that time we’ve met thousands of passionate small business owners, a group as hardworking and diverse as any you’ll find. In this series, we share stories of just some of the people who, through their commitment to building great local businesses, are sustaining the vibrant local communities we call home.

Jordan Wegner, co-owner of Fuegos – Steak • Tapas • Vegan, was always fairly certain he would own a business. “Growing up, having a family business was the norm. I knew working for myself would likely be the path I would take.” Where that path would lead, however, was unclear until he met his partner, Chef Oscar Villarreal.

Wegner made his way to Madison from Horicon, Wisconsin for school and because of the openness and acceptance of the LGBTQ community. Once here, he met Villarreal and found the person who would become his partner in both business and life.

While they had a lot in common, their diets were not one of the things they shared. Wegner sticks to a plant-based diet, whereas Villarreal embraces a tongue-to-tail philosophy in his cooking. Fuegos was borne of the struggle in finding a restaurant that accommodated both of their diets.

“The basic need of finding a restaurant with plant based-options, as well as its counterparts, all at one location was an ongoing struggle. With Chef Oscar’s skills and experience it only made sense that in order to solve this problem, we would have to build it ourselves.”

The steak in the restaurant’s name represents Villarreal, the vegan Wegner, and the tapas uniting them both with a nod to Villarreal’s Spanish heritage, and as a representation of how they prefer to eat to “experience a little of everything.”

While the concept of a vegan steakhouse turned some heads upon opening, the concept has been a hit. Within six months of opening in 2017, Fuegos – Steak • Tapas • Vegan was nominated for a record-breaking nine categories in the annual Best of Madison awards. They won three of the categories.

Locals love Fuegos, and Wegner is passionate about supporting his own local favorites, as well. Michelangelo’s Coffee House on State Street, Willy St. Co-op, the Johnson Street location of Salvatore’s Tomato Pies, and Sa-Bai Thong on University Avenue rank among his top picks.

After finding success with a unique concept, Wegner had some advice to share with others who’d like to pursue their own dreams of starting a business.

“Test your market before making a long-term commitment. Make sure you are passionate about the business. Be willing to make sacrifices knowing you are investing within yourself and your future. Surround yourself with like-minded individuals and groups and enjoy the ride!”

Want to know more? Check out and bookmark Fuegos – Steak • Tapas • Vegan on Yelp!

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