Milwaukee restaurants and bars can apply to expand outdoor seating during COVID-19 -- here's how

NOW: Milwaukee restaurants and bars can apply to expand outdoor seating during COVID-19 -- here’s how

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Restaurants and bars in the City of Milwaukee can apply to expand their seating accommodations by using sidewalks, parking lanes, and travel lanes for outdoor dining while adhering to proper social distancing.

The application for Active Streets for Businesses will go live ONLINE HERE on Wednesday morning, June 17. 

According to a news release, the city-wide program follows the Milwaukee Health Department’s guidelines in Moving Milwaukee Forward.

“As the City of Milwaukee focuses on safely continuing and resuming businesses and activities for all sectors of our economy, Active Streets for Businesses allows businesses and patrons an expanded option for increased physical distancing while being in outdoor, well-ventilated areas,” said Mayor Tom Barrett.

"We're just excited for any opportunity we have to further our business but also do it responsibly," said Andrew Fronek, owner of Brat Haus on Old World Third Street.

Fronek says most bars and restaurants on that stretch of road would jump at the chance to expand seating, but do it with their neighbors in mind.

"Usingers has delivery trucks that come and go so that's obviously something," said Fronek, "there's also parking for retail shops for the Spice House and retail shops, so you have to take into consideration other businesses as well."

"I don't necessitate closing down any streets," said Mayor Barrett, "but it will use some public right-of-way primarily in those areas where the speed limit is 25 MPH or less."

The news release says the new initiative builds on previous programs under the Department of Public Works (DPW), including free Restaurant Carryout Zones and the waiver of fees for parklets that utilize public right of way to give businesses more flexibility as they deal with challenges during COVID-19.

“As a department we continuously strive for innovative uses of the public way and anticipate great interest forthis program,” said Commissioner of Public Works Jeff Polenske.

Applicants must attach a site plan to the application with the proposed layout of the outdoor dining area.The proposed dining area must:

  • Comply with health requirements intended to slow or prevent the transmission of COVID-19.
  • Have tables and chairs that are removable and must not restrict the pedestrian flow in-and-out of a building.
  • Comply with all state and local ADA guidelines including access ramps and furniture selection.

More information on the program and the current guidelines can be found by CLICKING HERE.

Bar and restaurant owners can also learn more about the how to safely return to service with Mayor Barrett’s June 9 Moving Milwaukee Forward Webinar. Access the full recording HERE.  

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