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Milwaukeeans, where are you?
Don't miss your chance to enjoy Downtown Dining Week.

I made my way downtown for the dinner hour of DDW’s opening day, expecting the usual hustle and bustle that is Milwaukee in the summer. I thought I might find some diners willing to chat with me about their DDW experiences, but to my disappointment, the night was surprisingly slow.

Through the windows of each restaurant I could see diners enjoying a drink, a meal and some company, but I also saw many open tables, and there were no long lines of patrons waiting to be seated like there have been in the past.

Sure, maybe it was a little chilly out last night, but c’mon, Milwaukee, that’s no excuse not to come out when you live in the Midwest.

At least one group was visibly excited about the kick-off event, though: the staff that makes it all happen. Everyone from the restaurant owners to the valet parkers were in high-gear, ready to please customers and promote their cuisine. Tables were in place, lights were dimmed, candles were lit, the mood was set. Even outdoor seating was arranged on the sidewalks, with each table accessorized with a DDW-specific menu.

Clever advertising for DDW at Mo's Irish Pub.
I stopped to chat with a hostess at Mo’s Irish Pub on Wisconsin Avenue, and she said the restaurant had had a great turn out for DDW during the lunch hour, but the dinner traffic was slow. However, she anticipated the crowds would pick up as word about the event spreads. While we talked, a server was creating a chalk illustration on the sidewalk advertising Mo’s DDW specials, a fun way to catch people’s attention.

I also spoke with a server from Blackthorn Pub and Grill on Jefferson Street, who agreed the night was unexpectedly slow. He cited the cooler weather and the nearby event of Jazz in the Park as possible causes of the low turnout, but he too was confident traffic would increase as the event continues.

As I continued my walk through downtown, approaching people in attempts to find out about their meals, I noticed all of the DDW signage proudly promoting the special event. Whether it was on the dry-erase board outside Zaafaran, a chalkboard at Metro Bar & Café or menus arranged in a tray at the Indulge doorway, there was DDW pride all over.

Diners Nikki Lamb (left) and Alicia Lombardo.
I was finally able to stop two ladies coming out of Sake Tumi on Milwaukee Street to see what they thought of DDW’s first night. Both had eaten at Sake Tumi before, but enjoyed the special DDW menu and the price. “It’s an awesome deal. You get a ton of food,” said Nikki Lamb. “It’s a good way to get people out.”

Her friend, Alicia Lombardo, agreed, “The food was wonderful.”

Listen to your fellow Milwaukeeans, people. Get on out there and enjoy these fabulous meals at such great prices! There are only six days left – we would hate for you to miss it.

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