Punch Bowl Social lays off 91 employees at downtown Milwaukee location

Restaurant is "closed until further notice"


Punch Bowl Social notified the state Department of Workforce Development this week that it is permanently laying off 91 employees at its downtown Milwaukee location at 1122 N. Vel R. Phillips Ave. in the Entertainment Block near Fiserv Forum in downtown Milwaukee.

In its notification to the state, the company said the layoffs are a direct result of the COVID-19 coronavirus.

“The company will be carrying out a mass layoff regarding its employees working at this location,” Punch Bowl Social said in its letter to the state. “The layoff is expected to be permanent. The layoff results from the unexpected and unforeseen business circumstances related to the COVID-19 pandemic and natural disaster…The affected employees will all be laid off immediately.”

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The list of positions that were eliminated includes 24 servers, 14 bartenders and 9 line cooks.

The website for Punch Bowl Social’s Milwaukee location indicates that as of Monday, March 16, it was “temporarily closed until further notice.”

“We want to clarify that this is a temporary closure,” Punch Bowl Social spokeswoman Ashley Kamen Saunders said. “The company will announce re-opening plans on their social channels down the road.”

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To maintain social distancing in an attempt to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, state and local officials have mandated that all bars and restaurants close to the public and operate only providing carryout or delivery food services.

Denver-based Punch Bowl Social is much more than just a restaurant. The establishment offers a wide variety of games, including bowling, video games, shuffleboard, pool, darts and karaoke, which it now can’t offer to its patrons.

The businesses in the Fiserv Forum Entertainment Block also rely heavily on traffic from people coming to events at the arena, which has been shut down by social distancing requirements for dealing with the coronavirus.

Due to the cancellation of events at Fiserv Forum, Good City Brewing shut down its tap room in the Entertainment Block before the state required all bars and restaurants to close to the public and only offer delivery or carry-out services.

The Entertainment Block was developed by the owners of the Milwaukee Bucks. Punch Bowl Social occupies a 24,500-square-foot, two-story space in the Entertainment Block. A spokesperson for the Bucks declined to comment.

BizTimes Milwaukee reporter Brandon Anderegg contributed to this report.

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