Milwaukee snow presents new outdoor dining challenges

The City of Milwaukee declared its first snow emergency of the season for Wednesday night, Dec. 30.

With the COVID-19 pandemic still swirling, there are some snow-related rules for bars and restaurants that are taking advantage of expanded outdoor dining.

"As I was kind of stacking up the snow and figuring out where it’s going to go, I thought, 'Why can’t we make a little, like a snow fort, kind of around the tables," said Tim Eichinger, co-owner of Black Husky Brewing in Riverwest. "That’s what I would have done when I was 9 years old, so why not do it now?"

Where some people see only snow, others see snow forts -- a childlike solution to a 2020 problem. Black Husky Brewing is part of Milwaukee's Active Streets for Business program, allowing partial use of the street for expanded outdoor dining.

Eichinger said it's hard to predict how often the tables will actually be used, but felt it was important to keep outside as an option.

"This is certainly going to be more challenging, but we’ll get through it," Eichinger said. "If you still don’t feel comfortable with being inside, there are certainly things you can do outside. We’re going to do our best to accommodate that."

Part of getting an Active Streets permit was having a plan for days like Wednesday.

"It essentially was an agreement for them to be responsible in the snow and ice clearing," DeNeve said. "We wanted to make sure that if we were going to grant a permit to a business that they understood that this was required of them."

Now, the snow forts are simply optional.

"We’re just going to keep having a positive attitude and keep on trying to do things to give people a good experience," said Eichinger.

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The snow emergency means there are also a few more parking rules taking effect that drivers need to know if they don't want to be ticketed.

In a year when everything seems different, some things are the same. A blustery Tuesday night meant a busy Wednesday for some.

"It’s the first real snow of the year so that adds to the stress, the tension," said Stephen Pavlik. 

Pavlik didn't see his daughter for Christmas this year because her fiance has COVID-19. So he spread love from a distance -- cleaning off her car.

"I had to, yah know, it’s a father’s duties I guess," said Pavlik.

People -- and their cars -- staying put due to COVID-19 makes it more difficult to clear streets.

"A lot of people are simply parked in the same spot. It’s been very difficult to address the parking lanes, especially in a lot of the more dense and narrow streets throughout the city," said Brian DeNeve, marketing and communications officer for the Milwaukee Department of Public Works. 

As a result of the declared snow emergency, cars will be required to park on opposite sides of the street, allowing room for plows to come through.

It something dads, like Pavlik, can help with.

"It’s heavy but it’s manageable, and we don’t have that much," Pavlik said.

Milwaukee snow emergency parking rules

There is no parking allowed on arterials from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. and alternate side parking will be required on side streets from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.

  • Posted street signs take precedence.
  • Please read the street signs for winter parking instructions BEFORE YOU PARK.
  • All residents who park overnight on a Milwaukee side street must move their vehicles to the EVEN numbered side of the street from 10 p.m. Wednesday to 6 a.m. Thursday, Dec. 31.

Designated Milwaukee Public Schools lots will be available for off-street parking beginning Dec. 30 at 7 p.m. All vehicles must be moved from MPS lots by 7 a.m. the following morning.

For a list of school parking lot locations, visit


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