Jeramey Jannene

How Bars and Restaurants Are Reacting To Reopening News

Businesses offer support, some share concerns. Virtually all have struggled.

By - Jun 5th, 2020 02:01 pm
Steny's. Photo by Joey Grihalva.

Steny’s. Photo by Joey Grihalva.

Bars and restaurants in Milwaukee took to social media Thursday afternoon to announce their support, or displeasure, for Mayor Tom Barrett‘s announcement that bars and restaurants could reopen to 25 percent capacity on Friday at 2:00 p.m.

The businesses, closed to in-person patronage since March 16th as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, had wide-ranging feedback for the news. Some said they were ready to safely reopen, others said the decision was a deliberate distraction from the protest movement or announced without sufficient notice. Some said they would open as soon as allowed, others said they would be ready next week and a number announced no opening date.

Over the past three months many establishments have reported struggles with supporting employees, paying rent and dealing with uncertainty on how and when to reopen. Businesses in the 18 Milwaukee County suburbs were allowed to reopen on May 22nd.

A petition, started by an employee of Steny’s Tavern two days ago, had drawn over 6,000 signatures by the time of publication. It said if Milwaukee did not provide a definitive date that bars and restaurants would open in protest for a brief window on Monday. The post said Steny’s was using protective measures.

Barrett and Health Commissioner Jeanette Kowalik had previously said that science, not politics, would guide the city’s decision. No specific data was provided Thursday, but Barrett said data had improved over last night. Kowalik was not at the press briefing.

A city public health gating critiera dashboard has not been updated since June 1st.

AJ Bombers

ATTN LOVERS: As you all are well aware, we got the green light to re-open as of 2 PM today. Re-opening with all health & safety precautions in place is important to us…so we’re going at our own pace.


  • We’re serving our grub, beers & cocktails takeout-style.
  • Outdoor seating is open on a first come, first served basis.
  • Our team will be set up at the door to take your orders so you can enjoy your burgers at any of our tables set up outside.
  • Looking for round 2 on drinks? No problem! Head up to the door and our bartender will serve it up.
  • We’ll be sanitizing all outdoor furniture between each group.
  • Our team is committed to wearing masks at all times and gloves while handing all food & drink products.
  • Hand sanitizer stations will be available for our guests.
  • Carryout & delivery are still available!

We hope to see you this weekend! Do you have any questions on our plans? Let us know in the comments below and we’d be happy to answer them. Cheers.


On the surface this seems like great news, but please understand that from a restaurant’s point of view, there was no warning and absolutely no communication on reopening, let alone no guidelines besides operating at a 25% capacity (of square footage, or number of seats?) all of which makes it very difficult to reopen safely. And so, not great news.

We will be continuing a take out only model until we feel that we are ready to open in a safe manner for all employees and customers.

Even though it is so tempting to go back out to restaurants and get back to “normal”, we encourage you to keep supporting take out from restaurants that are trying to open cautiously and safely, with thoughts towards a sustainable future.

Black Sheep

Black Sheep is continuing carry out service until further notice. We will have our patio open this weekend for drinks (mmmm Sangria) at a distanced and limited capacity, first come first serve basis.

We will be taking this “re-opening” safely and slowly. As always, we appreciate your continued support!

Boone and Crockett / The Cooperage / Snack Boys

“My spots won’t be used as pawns to draw dissenters away from the protests. An 18 hour notice with no prior discussion or planning is a clear indication that irresponsible politicking is at play. For those of us that supported Barrett’s decision to delay opening in the name of public safety, this is a slap in the face,” said John Revord.

Brownstone Social Lounge

Today is Opening Day Brownstone Social Lounge … We will celebrate with a few new restrictions to ensure everyone’s safety… Doors open at 4pm….

Champion’s Pub

We will be serving drinks on our patio from 4-8pm. We are a neighborhood tavern. A gathering place for hope and togetherness. We will continue to be a place where everyone is treated like family.

Comet Cafe

Mayor Barrett announced that as of 2pm on June 5th restaurants can be open for dine-in at a 25% capacity. BUT HOLD UP! we’re gonna take the weekend to plan how to keep our staff safe while providing you a classic Comet experience. We’ll check up with you next week with our plan to reopen. We’ll still be open for carry-out, so slide in for a fish fry or some brunch and we’d be happy to feed ya.

See you soon!

Crossroads Collective

Like many others, we are not opening our dining room until next week.

We ARE, however, almost done setting up this amazing patio on which you can order food and drinks from your phone.

The Harp Irish Pub


Opening tomorrow June 5th at 4pm!

We’ll be complying with all city and state social distancing regulations.

Can’t wait to see everyone!


Open for dining/patio tomorrow at 2pm! Whoopee!

Ian’s Pizza

Our doors are finally back open to the public! We are moving forward with increased sanitation efforts, reduced capacity and have installed plexiglass partitions between our staff and guests as extra safety measures. Customers are now allowed to enter our stores and purchase pizza by the slice, salads and all of our other goodies. We ask that everyone please practice safe social distancing while in our stores. Curbside pickup and delivery service is still available at all locations.

North Ave: Takeout only. No in-store dining.

Juneau Ave: Takeout only. No in-store dining.

Story Hill: Dining room open with reduced capacity.

The Mothership

Ok. We are f*cking pissed. 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. So I’m going to say this: we will not be reopening outside of regular take out this month. Mayor Tom Barrett you have let police officers tear gas citizens of Milwaukee and MPD arrested one of my employees who was making solution to aid people harmed by tear gas. You are able to be recalled and we are fucking pissed. Fuck the 50 bars in Milwaukee who wanted to open as a sign of protest during a protest to better the lives of some of the people who support your establishments. You are fucking problematic! Please do not let us bars distract you from what is going on in the world. Please continue to push for real change for black lives, POC lives, the human beings in the LGBTQ+ communities.

The White House Bay View

We are now accepting reservations starting on Saturday June 6th, we are so excited! As a team for weeks we have been curating our opening menu, and addressing our floor plan which will now include outside dining on our beautiful new terrace. Please call to reserve your table! 414-897-0495 @ The White House Bay View

Nicole’s Third Ward Social

We are finally allowed to be open for 25 people at a time.

We aren’t out of the clear but its a step in the right direction.

Odd Duck

NO. We will not be opening our dining room just because a strange last minute decision was made, awkwardly, before a weekend, in the middle of the largest global protests for human rights, perhaps ever.

We think it is incredibly irresponsible of our city to give us NO WARNING and NO GUIDELINES for reopening. We want to stay healthy and be able to take care of you responsibly. That takes money, information, time and planning. We are working on that, but restaurants aren’t magic. It might feel that way sometimes to you, and we want to make you feel that way! But the reality is that it takes a huge, well-oiled machine of systems, structure, thought, planning and people to pull that off.

NOT TO MENTION – you all have more important stuff to do. We’ve got to change this world, and we will feed you on the other side. Get back to taking care of your families, taking care of yourself and TAKING IT TO THE STREETS. We will be here for you later on. BE SAFE.


See you tomorrow at 2!

Pitch’s Restaurant

It’s with great pleasure to announce that we will open today for dinner service! Please call for reservations as our seating is limited!

Puddler’s Hall

The owners and staff are still on the company yacht somewhere in the Caribbean, so we won’t be able to open this weekend. If the slushy machine breaks down, or we run out of those tiny drink umbrellas, we’ll scuttle this b**** and come back in to work.

RWB Milwaukee

Alright for real this time. WHOS READY TO PARTY!?
Open tomorrow at 7PM (MAX CAPACITY 200 People)


We are officially open for dine in and outdoor seating. For reservations or to place a pick up order for Milwaukee’s #1 Caribbean and Latin Restaurant visit us online at or by calling 414-988-8030

Smoke Shack

Hey Smoke Shackers! Here’s a little update on our re-opening plans. It’s important for us to get this right, so we’re going to take it day by day. The safety of our team and our patrons is our #1 priority.

We’ve been utilizing our order & pickup window over the last few weeks and well…it’s awesome! So, here’s our plan for this weekend:

Starting today (6/5) at 2 PM:

  • Patio is OPEN on a first come, first served basis.
  • Food & drink ordering can be done online, via phone or through our handy dandy window on the patio. Need another beer? We’ll serve ya right through the window.
  • All food will be served takeout-style.
  • Our team will sanitize tables between every group.
  • Our staff will always be wearing masks and will wear gloves when handling your food & drinks.
  • Hand sanitizing stations are in place for your use.
  • Carryout & delivery are still available!

This is a whole new world for us and we’re so thankful for your support. We can’t wait to see you all this weekend.

Did we miss anything? Please let us know what questions you have below and we’d be happy to answer them! ⬇️

Snifters – Tapas & Spirits

Snifters is open to the public! Our kitchen remains open and serving food until 10pm. DJ starts at 9pm playing music for those who have been looking for a night out with drinks. To ensure the safety of all our staff and customers know that this will be a very limited experience. Temperature checks at the door. No cover. Patio is open. Doors open at 7pm.


We’re Back!!! So many stories to share and new things to tell you about… we can’t wait to see you!


Hello Everyone-

We hope you all are doing well. As most of you have probably heard by now, restaurants within the City of Milwaukee have been granted permission to reopen as of today at 2pm. Expectedly, we have received quite a few calls, emails, and inquiries over the last 24 hours as to when we will be back open for dining in the restaurant and out on our patio. Of course, we miss each and everyone of you and we are beyond eager to see all of you again and have the opportunity to catch up with you and serve you our delicious cuisine and beverages. However, as we have always been since day one of opening Tess almost 18 years ago, we remain committed to the safety of our guests, staff and community.

Along with instilling and installing additional safety protocols inside our restaurant, there’s also the simple fact that we have been closed to the public for almost three months. During that time, things changed a lot with the physical layout of our restaurant….our dining room had pretty much become a carryout packaging zone complete with a chest freezer smack dab in the middle of it, the bar room had become my office, etc. These things take time to return to as they were and being a small restaurant with a small staff, we’ll need a little bit to get everything in order.

So, we wanted to let you know that we will still be open for carryout & curbside this weekend through Sunday. If you would like to enjoy your curbside/carryout on our patio, you may do so by entering our terrace through the gate just to the south of our front door. We will provide disposable utensils and napkins and we will have an abbreviated wine & beer list available for ordering at the table. Cocktails will also be available. Other things to know about this:
– Beverage menus will be single use and discarded after each table exits. Drink orders will be taken by and delivered by staff members wearing gloves and masks
– Tables and chairs will be sanitized after each table is done occupying it
– Please do not move tables around or join them together. We have them placed where they need to be to maintain responsible social distancing. Maximum of 4 people at a table
– Please let us know when you place your order if you intend to enjoy it on our patio. Online orders can note this in the ‘Special Instructions’. If we know you’re coming, we’ll save a table for you

With that in mind, we wanted to also let you know that we will have our patio open for dining starting Wednesday, June 10th. Again:
– we will have tables socially distanced and only allow a maximum of 4 people at a table.- staff members will be gloved and masked
– all menus will be single use and disposable- tables and chairs will be sanitized after each use
– hand sanitizer stations will be available near the bathrooms and at other locations in the restaurant
– seating will be by reservation only, please call (414.964.8377) or email us ( to reserve a table

We really still need your help this weekend so please let us know if we can help out with your dinner needs between now & Sunday.

We will continue to update our safety measures as needed. If you feel we are falling short or could do better in any area, please let us know and we will do what we can to immediately correct it. Please understand that we are doing our best and constantly strive to utilize best practices.

Thank you all for your time and support over the last 18 years and especially over the last 12 weeks. These have been difficult, trying times for all of us. Your patronage and kind words have kept us going and we honestly couldn’t be more appreciative of all of you.

Please feel free at any time to reach out with any questions, comments or concerns….we’re always here to chat.

Mitchell & Ashley Wakefield and the entire Tess Team

Triciclo Perú

Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. While we’d love to fill our restaurant again, for now we’re sticking to curbside pick up and encouraging customers to safe distance while enjoying takeout at our walk-up bar or in our outdoor seating area. Call to place an order, 414-239-8388 or email us.
Customer and employee safety & health is our number one priority! Stay safe and stay focused, Milwaukee!

This is a developing story. Article last updated 6/6/2020 at 6:50 p.m.

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One thought on “Dining: How Bars and Restaurants Are Reacting To Reopening News”

  1. danlarsen7007 says:

    Looking through the restaurant and bar comments, it’s easy to tell which businesses paid attention and planned while they were closed and which just sat and whined about the situation. The real businesses had plans and were ready to react when the time came. They knew roughly what would be required for the health and safety of their employees and guests, and planned accordingly, and they’re not afraid to let their customers know what they’ve done/will do.

    Those are the businesses I’ll favor, not the whiners or the ones stumbling around with no real plan.

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