These Milwaukee restaurants are seeing success with on-street dining program
Restaurants on Brady Street and East North Avenue are the most active in setting up new outdoor tables for customers this month, and those participating in the new city of Milwaukee program gave it high marks.
Since the program’s creation in June, the city approved 14 of 51 applications received, according to an email from Brian DeNeve, Department of Public Works spokesman. Those are largely on Milwaukee’s east side, including Brady Street and East North Avenue.
The program lets restaurants take over portions of city sidewalks and streets for outdoor seating, but requires they pay for the needed infrastructure to separate diners from traffic, draft plans for social distancing, and get insurance. The program lets restaurants seat more patrons while following the city’s pandemic capacity limits.
Snack Boys and Hacienda Beer Co. took over parking spaces on North Avenue for new seats. The East Side Business Improvement District helped make that possible by moving large planters that it maintains to separate the new tables from drivers, said John Revord, one of Snack Boys’ owners.
That helped make the seating more affordable, since the city makes businesses handle the cost of protective barriers. The East Side BID also helped AXE MKE on East Kenilworth Place with its application and by moving planters around its three new outdoor tables.
Snack Boys has eight tables in its outdoor space, with approvals for up two more that Revord said could be added soon.
“For restaurants, particularly with a smaller indoor capacity, it is a lifeline between remaining open and closing,” Revord said. “We see a vast preference by our clientele for seating outside, Nine out of 10 customers would prefer the outdoor seating.”
Snack Boys is temporarily closed after an employee tested positive for Covid-19, Revord said. It would likely reopen next week because other employees all tested negative.
Active Streets is a pilot program city and business officials assembled quickly to help stimulate the local hospitality industry. Owners who have tried it this month said they hope it becomes permanent.