A new outdoor beer garden is planned at a prime downtown site along the Milwaukee River.
The Tap Yard - MKE is slated to open in early June at North Edison and East Knapp Streets, taking over a lot managed by Interstate Parking on behalf of a subsidiary of The Marcus Corp. A 20-foot container bar will have a variety of craft beer on tap, including some that aren't otherwise available in the area, said owner Nick Marking.
The downtown location is one of three seasonal beer gardens Marking plans to bring to the area this spring. Tap Yard Waukesha opens May 5 on West Sunset Drive near The Shoppes at Fox River; and Tap Yard Bayshore opens May 12 at the Glendale shopping center, adjacent to its central town square and green space.
Marking is the former owner of The Brass Tap in Greenfield. He brought the Tampa, Florida-based chain of "neighborhood craft beer bars" to the area in 2015. He recently sold the location to start his own company: Primetime Events LLC, the operator of The Tap Yard beer gardens.
The idea was born out of a separate beer garden concept, The Lokal, which Marking helped launch with a group of operators last year at the 84South mixed-use development in Greenfield.
"It was really a great success even during a pandemic," he said. "We want to make sure people had the opportunity to get out in a wide open environment and still enjoy themselves in a safe environment."
He hopes The Tap Yard will have the same success, with three unconventional, high-traffic locations and a unique selections of craft brews. Each location's container bar will have 36 draft lines. Hard seltzer and wine will also be available.
"At The Brass Tap we try to get as many rare beers as possible and that's how I'm going to handle these beer gardens as well, to have some fun with it and provide some stuff that people haven’t had before," said Marking.
Situated within downtown's nightlife corridor and blocks away from Fiserv Forum, the Milwaukee location is poised to draw Bucks fans and bar-goers passing by on foot. Because it's an outdoor venue, The Tap Yard won't be open as late as bar close, said Marking. Closing time on weekends will be 10 p.m.
Events such as trivia, live music and fitness classes are planned at the Waukesha and Bayshore beer gardens. Based on the interest of the clientele, Marking said, the Milwaukee location will have similar programming as well as family-friendly activities like yard games.
The Tap Yard's request for operating licenses will be reviewed by Milwaukee's Licenses Committee on May 11.