Milwaukee restaurant 'optimistic' for future as pandemic continues

March marks one year since the coronavirus shutdown Milwaukee. One of the industry’s hardest hit was the restaurant business.

Joe Muench owns several Milwaukee restaurants, including Maxie’s.

"The last year in the restaurant business has not been boring that’s for sure," Muench said.

Muench said one of the biggest challenges was adjusting to a mostly to-go business model. Takeout continues to make up around 60% of total sales.

"It’s been a year of growth, and I think it just forced our hand to do it," said Muench.

Joe Muench

The dining room at Maxie’s is now back open, and staff says it gets busier every week. They are adjusting again to keep up with both.

"The challenge right now is with the growth of the inside balancing with the curbside, and what can the kitchen capacity handle?" said executive chef Jacob Schick.

Maxie’s added positions dedicated to curbside delivery. They also switched up the menu based on what heats up well at home.

"It’s something that’s going to be around, and we’re going to have to find a way to work with it," said Schick.

Maxie's

Muench said sales are still only around 50% of what they were pre-pandemic. He doesn’t expect things to fully come back until well into 2022, but he is confident they will survive until then.

"We’re positive," said Muench. "We feel like we’re very optimistic about the future because people want to get out and people want to do things."

Another part of 2020 they expect to last for years to come is the Plexiglas barriers. Muench said customers seem to actually like the extra layer of separation.

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