Maria Sbytova /

Since the pandemic began, Milwaukee restaurants have found interesting ways to stay open and keep business going. Many of them have relied on an increase in takeout orders and some restaurants have been offering outside dining.

Though, as the temperatures drop in Wisconsin, where does that leave restaurants that have depended on outdoor dining to increase capacity?

Tom Daykin has been reporting on these issues for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. He's been looking at how restaurants are preparing for their first winter during the pandemic.

Scott Olson / Getty Images

Restaurants have had the go-ahead from the city of Milwaukee to open dine-in services and operate with safety and capacity limits for over a month, but many are still struggling. Some decide to close temporarily if any coronavirus cases arise amongst workers, but there’s actually no strict protocols to follow.

As restaurants research and adapt best new operation practices largely on their own, culinary historian and contributor Kyle Cherek says this lack of top-down instruction has caused a significant drop in public trust. 

Sarah Silbiger / Getty Images

The coronavirus pandemic has hit the hospitality industry hard. As COVID-19 rates continue to rise, restaurants have had to reevaluate operating plans or close their doors.

From the tipping system to sustainability to health care, this pandemic has exposed the major flaws of the hospitality system. The Milwaukee Independent Restaurant Coalition (MIRC) was recently formed to address these issues and create change so restaurants can better succeed on the other side of this pandemic. 

Audrey Nowakowski

Milwaukee’s restaurants are navigating a challenging balancing act during this coronavirus pandemic. When the lockdown was first ordered in March, carry-out was the only option allowed. Then, with about a day’s notice from the city, Milwaukee restaurants and bars were able to reopen dining spaces and outdoor seating on June 5.

Near West Side Partners / Facebook

Milwaukee-area businesses are struggling to survive amid the coronavirus pandemic. Although businesses in much of Wisconsin are allowed to reopen without any official guidelines, Milwaukee and many of its nearby suburbs have safer-at-home orders limiting business activity. Still, as the pandemic wears on, local businesses are figuring out how to change their business model to fit the needs of their community while maintaining safety.

Stuart Franklin / Getty Images

Restaurants put $225 billion into the economy every year. While some are still in business, almost 450,000 independent restaurants must change operations to meet new safety measures or face the risk of closing completely due to the coronavirus pandemic. This will also impact the 11 million food service jobs — most of which were part of the initial flood of unemployment applications. 

>>Latest WUWM & NPR Coronavirus Coverage

Cousins Subs

How often do you order food and have it delivered versus going to a sit-down restaurant? Across the United States, food delivery is the fastest-growing segment in the restaurant industry — and it’s left some business owners struggling with how to deal with the changes. In Milwaukee, Cousins Subs has its own answer: a delivery-only facility.

Bartolotta Restaurants


Joe Bartolotta, co-owner of The Bartolotta Restaurants, died in his sleep, the restaurant group shared Tuesday. He was 60 years old.

For the past 25 years, Bartolotta's name has been synonymous with fine and quality dining in southeastern Wisconsin. He oversaw some of the area's most successful eateries, including Ristorante Bartolotta, Lake Park Bistro, Harbor House and Bachhus.

Kevin J. Miyazaki/PLATE

Wisconsin Foodie host Kyle Cherek believes this is a pivotal moment of Milwaukee's dining scene.

Plethoral of Dining Options in Walker's Point

Sep 24, 2014

Over the summer many new restaurants have opened up around town. And if there is any area where that trend is especially concentrated, it is south of downtown.

Sit Back, Relax, and Enjoy a Nice Milwaukee Breakfast

Jul 30, 2014
Isabelle Hurbain-Palatin, Flickr

One could argue about the importance of eating breakfast, but most of us would agree that it’s one of the best, and cheapest, meals to go out to eat for. 

And as Lake Effect dining contributor Ann Christenson tells Dan Harmon, the greater Milwaukee metro area offers some wonderful options, even for weekday breakfasts.

Some restaurants on Christenson's breakfast list are:

Celebrating Milwaukee's Restaurants: A Homegrown Delicacy

Feb 28, 2014
Inspirational Food, Flickr

Every month we talk with Lake Effect contributor Kyle Cherek about Milwaukee’s, and the rest of Wisconsin’s, great food traditions. Over the last year we’ve covered farmers markets, new restaurants, James Beard nominations and awards that recognize Milwaukee chefs, and more.

Chef Sanford D'Amato Looks Back on Career, Helping Build Milwaukee Dining Scene

Nov 19, 2013
Good Stock Farms

One of the key people responsible for the rise of Milwaukee’s fine dining scene over the past three decades is Chef, and Milwaukee native, Sanford D’Amato.

Marti Mikkelson

The Pizza Man restaurant was an east side institution for decades, until a fire destroyed it in early 2010.

Eleanor Petrson / WUWM-Lake Effect

It’s a Friday night – or it will be in a few hours - and you’re looking for a place to eat. Some place that you want to escape to, to have a nice, filling meal, a refreshing drink or two, and conversation. Fast food or a lively chain restaurant just doesn’t sound like it will hit the spot.

The Wisconsin solution might be a supper club.