Graham Kilmer

Bartolotta Opening Concession at McKinley Marina

The Roundhouse in McKinley Park will sell light snacks, drinks and some boating items.

By - Apr 26th, 2022 01:22 pm
McKinley Marina Roundhouse. Photo taken April 25, 2022 by Graham Kilmer.

McKinley Marina Roundhouse. Photo taken April 25, 2022 by Graham Kilmer.

The Bartolotta Restaurants, a hospitality group that operates a number of restaurants and one of the largest catering services in the Milwaukee area, is planning to open a new establishment in the McKinley Marina Roundhouse.

The building, at 1750 N. Lincoln Memorial Dr. is owned by Milwaukee County Parks. It’s in McKinley Park near the boat launch and the long Government Pier that nearly encircles the marina. Bartolotta will lease space from the county for the business and the county will receive a 4% cut of all sales. The roundhouse also includes office space for the marina staff, which will remain.

In 2019, Bartolotta released a statement announcing it was in discussions with the parks department to “assume operations” at the roundhouse. But the company never operated a restaurant or hospitality business out of the building. The description it offered at the time, of a “beer garden-type space,” fits with the description of the new business in a liquor license application filed with the City of Milwaukee.

The application calls the new business “The Roundhouse” and it describes what might be considered a beer garden, catering to boaters in the marina. A statement from the hospitality group released to Urban Milwaukee said the plans are to open in time for summer.

“During this season’s soft opening, the space will offer light snacks, refreshments, and a sundry store. The Bartolotta team hopes to use this season to learn what would be the best iteration of this special venue for the years to come and will continue to build upon its long partnership with Milwaukee County,” the hospitality group said.

Bartolotta has long operated a high-end restaurant, Lake Park Bistro, in the park’s pavilion, and was formerly the operator of the North Point Custard Stand. But it relinquished operation of the latter in 2019 as it pivoted to The Roundhouse.

Current plans for The Roundhouse combine an indoor food counter and sales area with outdoor seating and service, “serving beer, wine, cocktails with counter pickup service,” according to the application recently filed with the city. Also possible in the future is live entertainment.

The application estimates the majority of the sales will be alcohol, with about 30% being food sales, and a small percentage of sales for “life jackets, other boating sundry items.”

The roundhouse building has been a concession operation in the past. A sign on the west side of the building still reads “Pitch’s Express” and advertises sandwiches, cocktails, boating supplies and souvenirs. Pitch’s Express was opened in 2009 by the owner of Pitch’s Lounge and Restaurant, long located at 1801 N. Humboldt Ave.

McKinley Marina Roundhouse

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