Sophie Bolich

Dino’s Riverwest Is Permanently Closed

Neighborhood favorite announces closure Tuesday after a final hurrah celebrating the Riverwest 24.

By - Aug 2nd, 2022 05:00 pm
Dino's Riverwest. Photo by Michael Horne.

Dino’s Riverwest. Photo by Michael Horne.

Dino’s Riverwest has permanently closed. The announcement came Tuesday afternoon via a Facebook post from the restaurant. The full post read:

“As of today, Dino’s will be closing its doors permanently. We thank you all for your support and love! We are all sad to see this spot go, as we have had so many great shows, meals and times together! We appreciate you!”

The neighborhood favorite at 808 E. Chambers St. originally opened in 1968 as a bar under the ownership of Leo Dinon. In 1983 the business expanded into the adjacent building and began offering Italian food cooked by his wife Rita. The place had a long, 50-year run with several brief closures, but always found its way back to business.

Dino’s closed in 2019, but disappointment quickly turned to celebration when two former regulars announced plans to revive the establishment just a few years later.

Industry veteran Dan Budziszewski and landlord-musician Mike Brumm reopened the cafe in March of this year. Using recipes from the original owners, the pair kept tradition alive while making tweaks to make the business run more smoothly. For example, using kiosks for automated ordering in lieu of servers, offering a pared-down menu and emphasizing elevated street food in addition to its typical pub fare of burgers, wings and fish fry.

The restaurant’s previous chef, Lawrence Lococo, also helped in getting the restaurant back up and running, Urban Milwaukee previously reported.

Dino’s was open for approximately four months, including during this past weekend’s Riverwest 24. On July 22, the restaurant announced via Facebook that its kitchen would be closed “for the foreseeable future,” noting equipment failure and a lack of staff, but continued to serve drinks and live entertainment. The business’s license was set to expire September 14.

Budziszewski, who previously worked at MobCraft Beer, The Gig and Bremen Cafe, confirmed that Dino’s struggled with the same staffing shortages that many other restaurants are currently facing. Even with “great supporters,” he said, opening a restaurant in the current climate is a difficult feat.

But given Dino’s history, the bar-restaurant might perhaps be revived again in the future.

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