Milwaukee bars and restaurants have mixed feelings on reopening today

Milwaukee bars that normally do major business on St. Patrick's Day were quiet Tuesday.

Last updated on June 9th, 2020 at 05:22 pm

Several Milwaukee bars and restaurants took to social media over the last 24 hours to share their stance on reopening Friday.

On Thursday, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett announced that beginning at 2 p.m. Friday, bars and restaurants can open indoor service at 25% capacity. Even though Milwaukee entered “phase three” of the city’s reopening plan, Barrett said the decision was made with some hesitance.

“I do so with some trepidation simply because I don’t want people to get sick,” Barrett said during a Thursday Milwaukee County briefing. “I think right now with the weather, the marches that are going on, there’s a lot of people who feel we’re over (COVID-19). We’re not over that. We’re not over that by a long shot.”

Several businesses were caught off-guard by the announcement and took issue with the short notice, a lack of guidelines for reopening and the timing of the announcement given recent protests.

Celesta restaurant will not open its doors this weekend but will continue to serve curbside pickup. In an Instagram post, the restaurant called for people to focus on taking care of the community, navigating the global health crisis, and changing the world.

“In addition to receiving absolutely no guidelines or support from the city, we believe there are more important matters to concentrate on right now like marching to protect the lives of People of Color and dismantling an unfair system that marginalizes many others, including LGBTQ and immigrant communities,” the post states.

The Laughing Taco will also remain open for take-out and delivery but will not open Friday.

“We miss you and we would love to see you back in our dining room; but this is not the way and not the time,” the restaurant said in an Instagram post. “Our employees and customers are always our first priority.”

Boone & Crockett, The Cooperage and Snack Boys are not reopening, calling Barrett’s decision a “slap in the face.”

“My spots won’t be used as pawns to draw dissenters away from the protests,” a Snack Boys Instagram post stated. “An 18-hour notice with no prior discussion or planning is a clear indication that irresponsible politicking is at play. For those of us that supported Barrett’s decision to delay opening in the name of public safety, this is a slap in the face.”

However, bars and restaurants were among the businesses to have been hit hardest by the pandemic, with several in the Milwaukee area itching to reopen. Camp Bar, for example, will reopen Friday at 3 p.m. with several precautions in place to keep customers safe.

“We’ve been waiting for this moment! We have had lots of practice over the past few weeks at Camp Bar Shorewood & Camp Bar Tosa and are ready to reopen Camp Bar Third Ward with new safety precautions tomorrow for Old Fashioned Friday’s!,” the bar said in a Facebook post.

The Harp Irish Pub will be open for business Friday starting at 4 p.m.

“We’re back baby! Opening tomorrow June 5th at 4 p.m.! We’ll be complying with all city and state social distancing regulations. Can’t wait to see everyone!”

Who’s on Third is opening its doors with plans to slowly ramp up service and hours to better serve customers and keep them safe, the sports bar said in a Facebook post.

“Your safety and well-being are extremely important to us and we have gone the extra mile to keep our environment clean and sanitized,” Who’s on Third stated in the post.

Get more news and insight in the May 25 issue of BizTimes Milwaukee. Subscribe to get updates in your inbox here.

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Brandon Anderegg
Brandon covers startups, technology, banking and finance. He previously worked as a general assignment and court reporter for The Freeman in Waukesha. Brandon graduated from UW-Milwaukee’s journalism, advertising and media studies program with an emphasis in journalism. He enjoys live music, playing guitar and loves to hacky sack.

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