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How to support Milwaukee restaurants and bars

Each week on Radio Milwaukee,  Milwaukee Magazine dining critic Ann Christenson and 88Nine’s resident foodie Tarik Moody discuss Milwaukee’s culinary and restaurant culture on  This Bites.

This week and future episodes are going to be different. You will hear the difference. Due to the COVID-19 virus, Ann and I are recording the show remotely, which in itself is new territory for us. Usually, we talk about some amazing dinner events or a new restaurant opening, but this week we had nothing to share along those lines. It was weird and even a little unsettling. Even though there are dark clouds for the Milwaukee culinary and dining scene, the folks behind the scene are doing everything to make sure that the proverbial silver lining is shiny and bright. And once this situation is over, Milwaukee's food scene will be better and stronger than ever before.

In the meantime, Ann and I are going to highlight the amazing chefs, bartenders, distilleries, breweries and others doing amazing things to help each other. We are going to share some of our favorite recipes, podcasts, cookbooks. And if you like to share anything with us, please email

In this episode of "This Bites," we talked about what restaurants are offering curbside pickup and delivery, an emotional open letter from Milwaukee restaurants to Wisconsin state legislature. We also talked about restaurants giving back to the community with free meals, a local distillery making hand sanitizer for people who need it the most and finally, we discussed ways of helping your local restaurants and the people who work for them.

Because of the pandemic, Milwaukee restaurants and bars had to shut down their dine-in operations. Fortunately, a lot of these restaurants have made accommodations for curbside pickup and delivery. Milwaukee Magazine has an updated list of places that offer pickup and delivery.

Burgers from Funky Fresh Spring Rolls at the Sherman Phoenix | Photo via Facebook

An open letter to Wisconsin State Legislature from Milwaukee restaurants and bars

On March 17, several Milwaukee restaurants and bars wrote an open letter to Wisconsin state legislative speakers Robin Vos and Scott Fitzgerald. In the letter, the restaurants and bars asked to support their industry due to the pandemic situation of COVID-19. Some of their requests include:

  • Support emergency unemployment benefits for all affected restaurant and bar workers,
    hourly and salaried;
  • Suspend payroll taxes and sales and use taxes immediately;
  • Enact rent, mortgage, utility bill and loan abatement for restaurant and bar workers; and
  • Enact rent freeze and mortgage abatement for restaurants and bars.

The restaurants and bars also created a petition on for people to sign. There are over 3,600 people who have already signed.

Restaurants giving back

Even as this pandemic is hurting the restaurants and bars, some are taking the time to give back to the community. Fresh Fin Poke is offering free lunches to MPS students from 1-3 p.m. daily (Monday-Friday) at their East Side shop located at 1806 E. North Ave.

The Tandem recently shut down operations to provide free community meals from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily (Monday-Friday) to those in need. To reserve a meal, call The Tandem at 414-885-1919. You can learn more at their Facebook page.

Central Standard Craft Distillery producing disinfectant spray

Early this week, Central Standard Craft Distillery announced that they were converting their high-proof vodka into a disinfectant spray. They use a formula provided by the CDC and will distribute the spray to places like nursing homes, critical-care centers and first responders at no cost.

How to support Milwaukee restaurants and bars

These are very uncertain times and we must come together and support each other. The restaurant and bar industry is getting hit hard by this pandemic. There are many ways to support your local restaurant by purchasing gift cards to having food delivered (make sure you tip well) to purchasing merchandise. One good way is to purchase restaurant bonds.

A restaurant bond is like a gift card, but it becomes worth more later. For example, purchase a $25 bond and in June it matures for $30, $35 in July, or $40 in August. You can learn more about restaurant bonds via Milwaukee Magazine.

Buy a $25 "Restaurant Bond" gift card now from restaurants and bars who have pledged to stand with their employees, and you can use one per visit when it matures for $30 in June, $35 in July, or $40 in August or beyond!

James Beard Foundation also has a list of ways you can help restaurants.

Director of Digital | Radio Milwaukee