Beer garden coming to Milwaukee County Zoo

Expected to open this fall

Milwaukee County Zoo
Milwaukee County Zoo

Last updated on July 3rd, 2019 at 07:23 pm

Milwaukee County Zoo visitors will soon have a new attraction greeting them at the front entrance: a beer garden.

Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele announced plans to bring a “Bear Garden” to the zoo in a new public-private concessions partnership, building on the success of beer gardens at county parks. 

Milwaukee County Zoo.

The opening of the beer garden will coincide with the opening of the new zoo entrance, which is expected later this fall.

Abele said the beer garden will boost revenues for the zoo, add full-time jobs and feature local vendors.

Beginning Memorial Day weekend, the zoo will roll out new concession options in a partnership with Denver-based Service Systems Associates, which will provide concessions, merchandising and catering services.

Under the partnership, SSA will also provide $3 million for capital investments, including major renovations and upgrades to the zoo’s existing restaurants and gift shops, Abele said. 

“Our public-private partnerships in the county’s successful beer gardens have been a huge win, serving up top-notch local food and beverages and bringing more than one million dollars back into our parks,” Abele said. “I’m thrilled we are bringing this same approach to the Milwaukee County Zoo through our new partnership with Service Systems Associates.”

As part of the agreement, SSA will retain and hire all current zoo employees working in concessions and merchandising. Additional full-time staff will be hired moving forward.

SSA also plans to hire the zoo’s first-ever executive chef.

SSA is one of 25 approved caterers available for events held at the zoo. The service provider works with more than 35 other zoos, aquariums, conservancies and museums around the country.

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