Bradford Beach bar-restaurant expansion put on hold

New proposal pends city, county review

Seating on the upper-level deck of the Bradford Beach pavilion. Photo credit: Milwaukee County Parks

Beachgoers will have to wait until at least next summer to grab a beer at a new container bar proposed at Bradford Beach in Milwaukee.

The beach’s food and beverage operator Dock Bradford LLC wants to expand service to the upper deck of the historic beach house building, but it looks like that won’t happen in time for this summer season.

Milwaukee County Parks last week shared an update on The Dock’s current plans, which were proposed in January. They include a custom-fabricated modular bar offering counter service, as well as new tables, chairs and lounge areas for patrons and the public.

“As it relates to the summer of this year … it appears that the operations at Bradford Beach will remain to be the window service, the food and beverage that is currently provided and has been provided,” Sarah Toomsen, manager of planning and development Sarah Toomsen for Milwaukee County, said during a Lakefront Development Advisory Committee meeting.

Currently, The Dock operates a covered dining area on the ground floor of the pavilion, adjacent to the kitchen and public restrooms, and some seating on the upper floor.

The project was placed on hold after The Dock LLC submitted revised design plans to the City of Milwaukee. Because the 72-year-old building is historically designated, the new proposal must go through the city and county review process, starting from the beginning.

But before The Dock’s updated proposal can be reviewed, the business must remove the seal coating it applied to the concrete on the pavilion’s upper-level deck.

The parks department said the coating was applied without their knowledge and contributes to problems with the existing condition of the structure. The department cited a recent engineering review, commissioned by The Dock, which concluded the coating is “doing more harm than good.”

“We have requested a remediation plan (from The Dock) …and it would be reviewed as a separate permit action, which should be taken up first,” said Toomsen. “It should be taken up before the proposed container bar because, of course, we have to remedy the surface before we could begin doing anything that would modify the space.”

As it stands, Milwaukee County has not issued any permits for construction at the site, she said.

The Dock’s parent company, Chicago-based CCH Management LLC, signed a five-year lease agreement with Milwaukee County Parks in May 2019. The group first proposed the pavilion expansion last year, and after revising original plans, gained approval from the Milwaukee Historic Preservation Commission.

In addition to the pavilion bar-restaurant, Dock Bradford operates three tiki bars on the beach. CCH Management also operates a beachside restaurant at Montrose Beach in Chicago, which opened in 2010.

Dock Bradford LLC joins two other vendors at Bradford Beach: Volley Life LLC, which organizes the volleyball leagues and tournaments, as well as the operator of Moosa’s burger shack on the south side of the property.

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Maredithe has covered retail, restaurants, entertainment and tourism since 2018. Her duties as associate editor include copy editing, page proofing and managing work flow. Meyer earned a degree in journalism from Marquette University and still enjoys attending men’s basketball games to cheer on the Golden Eagles. Also in her free time, Meyer coaches high school field hockey and loves trying out new restaurants in Milwaukee.

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