Michael Holloway

Guide to Milwaukee Parklets

12 places to enjoy the latest urban fad, like sidewalk dining on the street.

By - Jul 18th, 2017 03:34 pm
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Parklets at Club Charlies and Bavette La Boucherie. Photo by Amanda Maniscalco.

Parklets at Club Charlies and Bavette La Boucherie. Photo by Amanda Maniscalco.

The small window that is summertime in Milwaukee is packed full of options for outdoor activities. As soon as the temperature reaches the 60s, restaurant goers flock to patios to enjoy their first outdoor meals in months. And there’s a lot of those, as our recent patio guide proves. Adding to the summertime eating excitement are relatively new attractions in Milwaukee’s outdoor dining scene known as parklets.

Parklets offer a heightened outdoor dining experience in the form of an extension of the sidewalk that takes up a section of the street, typically occupying one to three public parking spaces. They’re sometimes referred to as “street patios” to avoid customer confusion, making them easier to distinguish from sidewalk patios.

Parklets are not permanent and are only legal between March 15 and Nov. 15 to prevent conflicts with snow removal during the winter. Businesses are required to submit an application for prospective parklets to the Department of Public Works, which upon approval leads to a modification of the food and/or alcohol license. The business then obtains the Special Privilege, a Common Council action that overrides the public right-of-way and allows the parklet to occupy the public space.

A total of eight city parklet programs have been created in the United States: Raleigh, NC, San Francisco, CA, Philadelphia, PA, Chicago, IL, Oakland, CA, Seattle, WA, Long Beach, CA, and Milwaukee, WI. Milwaukee’s first parklet was built in 2013 on the shared space between Divino Wine and Dine and the now-closed Two Bucks on Murray Ave.

Businesses benefit from parklets as foot traffic increases and customers are likely to spend more time in the space, boosting economic activity. The addition of floral arrangements and bicycle racks adds an aesthetically pleasing aspect to the space as well as an encouragement for eco-friendly transportation.

Since parklet season is upon us, here is our (ahem) First Annual Guide to parklets in Milwaukee. We count an even dozen. Remarkably, three are located in Shorewood, what a wild city! The rest are in Milwaukee’s Third Ward, Walker’s Point, East Side and Downtown. Come next year, we’ll expect this list to have grown.

Bavette La Boucherie: Located next door to Club Charlies’ parklet in the Third Ward, Bavette’s cozy single parking space parklet adds approximately 10 more seats to its outdoor dining area that also includes a sidewalk patio. Located at 330 E. Menomonee St.

Black Sheep: Offering an opportunity to expand upon your wine palette while sitting outdoors, Black Sheep’s parklet is conveniently located on the street in a spot where parking isn’t typically allowed anyway. The parklet’s dark color schemes of black and gray match the look and feel of the restaurant’s interior and exterior. 216 S. 2nd in Walker’s Point.

Buddha Lounge: This year, the Buddha Lounge has added to its already extravagant exterior with a parklet that lines the west side of the restaurant. The space is roughly three parking spaces long and provides a combination of bench and chair seating as well as five low standing tables, each boasting a personal firepit. The parklet is lined with strings of light, ensuring that customers can enjoy sushi or a cocktail well after sunset. 1504 E. North Ave.

Camp Bar (Third Ward): Camp Bar’s rather large parklet adds about 40 additional seats for the restaurant, occupying three parking spaces. Lined with lanterns and adorned with a wood finish, the Third Ward Camp Bar’s parklet was the inspiration for its sister location in Shorewood to follow suit with a parklet of its own. 525 E. Menomonee St.

Camp Bar (Shorewood): Taking a page out of its Third Ward counterpart’s book, the Shorewood bar is home to a 40-foot long parklet that offers 20 seats, expanding upon the sidewalk patio seating. The parklet was approved in 2016 when the bar also sought to expand into the neighboring space that was previously home to an entertainment company called Sound By Design. Both expansions have helped Camp Bar with an overcrowding problem due to the bar’s popularity. 4044 N. Oakland Ave.

Chocolate Factory: The eighth location to open in the area, the Shorewood Chocolate Factory contains a parklet occupying two parking spaces. The wooden parklet has become an instant favorite for customers on days when a couple of scoops of ice cream are necessary for cooling off. 4330 N. Oakland Ave.

Club Charlies: One of the first parklets to grace the city, Club Charlies converted a loading zone located in front of the business into an outdoor dining area. Running 20-by-8 feet, the parklet allows for additional outdoor seating for restaurant goers. 320 E. Menomonee St. in the Third Ward.

Divino Wine and Dine: Milwaukee’s first parklet will make a return despite neighboring businesses closing down within the past year. The parklet occupies two public parking spaces and can hold approximately 35 people. 2315 N. Murray Ave.

The Pub Club: Home to one of the biggest outdoor seating areas on N. 3rd St., the parklet at The Pub Club holds five dining tables, occupying three public parking spots. 1103 N. Old World 3rd St.

Shaker’s Cigar Bar: This parklet has returned for its third season. When S. 2nd St. was reduced from four lanes to two lanes and a bike lane, Shaker’s capitalized on an error with the sidewalk after a large step-off was smoothed into a slope by the city. The parklet runs 28 feet by 16 feet and is decorated with a variety of park-like plants such as hibiscus, ferns, and an apple tree. 422 S 2nd St., Walker’s Point.

Three Lion’s Pub: Home to yet another parklet in Shorewood, this pub’s outdoor seating takes up about two parking spaces. Three Lions offers an authentic pub experience, opening early for soccer games and boasting that they “bring the across the pond just across the street.” 4515 N. Oakland Ave.

Yokohama 1910: A brand new spot to get a bowl of ramen on the East Side, Yokohama is home to the most recent parklet in Milwaukee. Designed by Rinka Chung architecture, the parklet takes up two public parking spaces on Kenilworth and seats 20 people. The wooden, rustic appearance matches that of the interior of the restaurant. The garage door offers an opening in which the customers seated at the parklet can view the karaoke singers. 1932 E. Kenilworth Pl.

4 thoughts on “Guide to Milwaukee Parklets”

  1. Toni Toni Toni says:

    I was going to say “who wants to eat dinner in the street” but based on the quantity of these things, I guess a lot of people do. Seems like an uncomfortable experience, but I guess I should try it.

  2. Anne says:

    Draft and Vessel also has a parklet.

  3. Ramon says:

    Mis Suenos at 7335 W. Greenfield Avenue in downtown West Allis has a beautiful parklet. Near some interesting shops and good food.

  4. TOM says:

    And the revenue to the municipality for surrendering its right-of-way for revenue-generating activities amounts to…?

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