'Extremely frustrating:' Heavy spring rain creates problems for riverfront businesses in Milwaukee

Milwaukee River

MILWAUKEE -- Rain in the forecast Tuesday night, June 4 could not have come at a worse time for some business owners along the Milwaukee River. All of the rain this spring has caused the river to crest -- overflowing into the basements of businesses.

Some restaurants have even closed temporarily as a result.

During the typically busy noon hour, tables Brunch were empty Tuesday. The doors were locked and a sign in the window read: "Closed."

Brunch, Milwaukee

Morgan Sampson

"It's extremely frustrating. For me, my biggest concern is my staff right now -- making sure they are continuing to get hours and working," said Morgan Sampson, owner of Brunch.

Sampson's popular dining spot was closed starting Tuesday, May 28 -- when rising river levels left two feet of standing water in the restaurant's basement.

"We do use our basement for functional space with our food and dry storage, and because of that, we really find it unsafe to operate for our own staff and our customers," Sampson said.

Brunch, Milwaukee

Customers showed up on Tuesday, June 4 unaware they would not be able to reserve a table.

"I didn't think it could come this high to affect it, honestly," said Khaled Taha, customer. "It's Eid today, which is the celebration of the end of Ramadan. So we just had our big prayer, and it's the breaking of the fast -- so we can actually have brunch."

Sampson said she was working with the Milwaukee Health Department and her landlord to get the place cleaned up as soon as possible. She said the mess had already cost her $50,000 and counting.

Brunch, Milwaukee

"Because we're at river level, the water wants to stay exactly where it is," Sampson said. "We can pump, and pump, and pump, and it just doesn't go anywhere."

Sampson said ultimately, it would be the landlord's decision when and how to pump out the water. FOX6 News reached out to the landlord, but did not hear back.