With additional reporting by editorial intern Marla Hiller
On Thursday, Mayor Tom Barrett released some perhaps unexpected news: Starting on Friday at 2 p.m., restaurants and bars can open at 25% capacity. While a few operators say they’re ready to open their restaurants to customers dining in, most of the ones we talked to won’t open tomorrow, citing, among other reasons, the lack of time to prepare.
The Bay View bar The Mothership noted its ire at the mayor’s announcement – and the timing of it – in a post Thursday afternoon on Facebook: “The city of Milwaukee is giving us no notice whatsoever that we can reopen during the biggest protests of our lifetimes and during a pandemic probably to distract people from being on the streets.” The post noted that it would continue to operate only in a “regular takeout” capacity this month.
Bay View’s Goodkind will also not be one of the businesses opening on Friday. On its Instagram, the restaurant posted, “Today’s hasty and decidedly hollow decision to ‘re-open’ city bars and restaurants is wrong, and ill-informed. We miss you, WE LOVE YOU, but we’ll see you on the street instead…” The restaurant added that it would continue to offer meals curbside, which it has been doing periodically in the last few weeks.
As for others not ready to make the switch to in-service dining, there is Amilinda, located on East Wisconsin Avenue Downtown. The co-owner/executive chef had already decided to delay its reopening to early August a few weeks ago. Gregory León cited health concerns, also mentioning that the city “hasn’t given any guidelines” and that the decision was “hasty” and “a distraction.”
La Merenda in Walker’s Point won’t be ready on Friday, but manager Anthony Downing says they hope operate a dinner shift this Saturday and open up fully next week. That would be with reduced (indoor) capacity, he says, as well as outdoor dining.
As echoed by others, Kyle Schmutzler, manager of Farwell Avenue’s The Pasta Tree, says the staff doesn’t feel prepared to open on Friday, although they hope to open next week.
On the other hand, Crazy Water, which has operated for the last 18 years on Second Street in Walker’s Point, will be open Friday. Owner/executive chef Peggy Magister says she will accommodate the capacity restrictions by seating her customers on the restaurant’s enclosed patio. Diners will have to enter via the patio entrance, not the front door to Crazy Water. (She plans to post a sign.) And she advises diners to call ahead to make a reservation.