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Radio Milwaukee is planning an expanded new cafe and eatery

88Nine Radio Milwaukee's studios in Walker’s Point are getting a major upgrade. The studios will undergo a $770,000 renovation and expansion for a new café and eatery that will feature a full food and beverage menu and covered outdoor seating.

The café and eatery will be operated by Milwaukee chef and restaurateur Chad Meier, who owned the top-rated fine-dining restaurant Meraki in Walker's Point. Meraki specialized in world dishes made with local ingredients. It closed in August 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Meier said he is excited about the new café and eatery and working with Radio Milwaukee to reactivate its currently empty retail space. 

“Our menu will be eclectic and constantly changing, just like the music that 88Nine plays,” Meier said. “I look forward to sharing some amazing dishes and helping create a casual, creative space to facilitate community connections.”

Rendering for Radio Milwaukee's upcoming café and eatery

Radio Milwaukee Executive Director Kevin Sucher said these improvements to the station’s studio and office building, 220 E. Pittsburgh Ave., would further strengthen its ties to the community. 

“Our latest investment will add to the economic vitality of the growing Walker’s Point neighborhood,” Sucher said. “It will also create new and improved spaces where the community can have a quick bite or camp out for the day to create and collaborate, with food and beverage offerings to help fuel them.”

In exploring the concept for the new eatery, Meier hired the Milwaukee-based TKWA architecture firm, which has designed the façade and internal changes.

The renovation will include:

  • Building a 333-square-foot addition to the front of the café / eatery area, bringing the café space to a total of 1,650 square feet.
  • Adding outdoor seating in front of the building covered by an opaque overhang. 
  • Installing three garage doors with windows along the sidewalk to allow partial open-air use of the community room and connections to the outdoor seating.
  • Creating a kitchen in the back of the café space.
  • Complete remodeling of the café area.

When complete, the eatery will include 35 seats inside and 30 outdoors. Construction is slated to begin later this year, with the café and eatery opening tentatively scheduled for late February.
Funds for the renovation were provided by generous donors who ask to be anonymous. Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren provided pro bono legal assistance.

Radio Milwaukee and Meier will hold a community reception at the station at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 1 to unveil the eatery’s menu and name and other details about the project. The reception will also be livestreamed on the station’s Facebook page, https://facebook.com/88nine

The station moved into the two-story, 14,000-square-foot building in August 2013 after purchasing and completely renovating the vacant former art gallery and restaurant. Constructed as an industrial facility in 1953, the building now houses 88Nine’s studios, offices and 100-seat broadcast performance space, and a ground-floor retail space that Stone Creek Coffee had operated until permanently closing the location in November due to the pandemic. 

The renovation won a 2013 Mayor’s Design Award and 2014 AIA Wisconsin Merit Award.