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The Dog Days of Dining on Milwaukee Patios

Tips for local pet-friendly hot spots

Jul. 25, 2012
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Nothing beats lounging in the sun, breathing in the fresh air and enjoying decadent table scraps provided by a loved one—for dogs, that is. Milwaukee summers offer an array of pet-friendly patios where dogs and owners are encouraged to sip, snack and sprawl out within reason.

Patio Petiquette

When it comes to patio dining with a pet, the No. 1 rule is to keep it leashed and under control. Each venue may also have its own set of rules. Gretchen Kabler, owner of the Zoom Room (an agility-training center and canine social club), has been in the pet industry for 20-plus years. She suggests the following advice when dining out with a dog:

  • Make sure the venue allows dogs on the patio
  • Have the dog go to the bathroom prior to sitting (and keep poop bags on hand)
  • Be considerate of patrons who don't care for dogs
  • Bring a mat/rug for the dog to lay on and a toy to chew on
  • Don't let the dog jump on staff or other patrons
  • Choose a table away from main traffic and have the dog lie under it, if possible
  • Don't let the dog beg at a neighboring table; keep barking and whining to a minimum

East Side

According to Kabler, Brady Street is an extremely dog-friendly neighborhood. "I don't know of any restaurants on Brady that don't allow dogs," Kabler says.

Places like Crisp Pizza Bar & Lounge (1323 E. Brady St., 414-727-4217) and Hi Hat Lounge (1709 N. Arlington Place, 414-220-8090) have patios that typically fill up fast with East Side dwellers, especially on weekends. At any time of the day, people are often seen sitting with their dogs at these trendy street-side patios.

Best for smaller to medium-sized dogs. Some venues offer treats and water dishes.


For multiple dogs and bigger breeds, Alterra at the Lake (1701 N. Lincoln Memorial Drive, 414-223-4551) is a great place to hang out and blend in with other dog lovers.

Kayleigh Abresch, shift leader, has worked at Alterra for eight years and has never seen a problem on the patio. "On weekends, it's like a dog show," Abresch says. "On Saturday mornings, I'd say safely there will be 10 dogs on the patio."

Abresch is accustomed to seeing the same dogs each weekend and recognizes patrons by drink orders and placement of their pet(s) outside. With more than 30 tables on a beautiful patio, this is a prime spot each summer.

Best for all dog breeds. Offers water dishes.

Third Ward

Dogs aren't third-class citizens in the Third Ward, with restaurants like The Yard at The Iron Horse Hotel (500 W. Florida St., 1-888-543-4766). James Valona, director of guest experience since 2008, says he and the staff love when guests bring their dogs.

"We try to make our dog guests just as comfortable as our human ones. We have treats at the front desk, water bowls available and a doggy menu," Valona says.

With a contemporary, Mediterranean atmosphere and big brown couches for patrons and pets to sit on, everyone feels like they've gone to paradise. There is no limit to the number of dogs allowed on this patio.

Best for all dog breeds. Offers treats, water dishes and dog menu consisting of meat options.


The Wicked Hop
(345 N. Broadway, 414-223-0345) is also no stranger to regular canine clientele. Server manager and event planner Krysta McFarland refers to the restaurant as "dog heaven" and says "dogs that sit on our patio are treated just like any other patron."

The Wicked Hop has no rules regarding pets. However, owners should use their best judgment, since all 17 tables on the sidewalk are close together and in a busy area.

Best for smaller to medium-sized dogs. Offers treats and water dishes.

Bay View

For Bay View-bound hounds, Sven's Café (2699 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., 414-483-2233) is a quaint place with terrific sandwiches and fresh bakery. Sven's owner Steve Goretzko says his coffee shop is known for its dog-friendly patio.

It offers adequate space for multiple pets and gives customers and their furry companions a shaded area that's perfect for gawking at nearby traffic.

Patron Kerry Dawson, owner of Native Dogg (an in-home pet care company), frequents Sven's with her three dogs, Ace, Frankie and Woubie. Dawson says 105-pound Ace, aka "the roast beef eater," can't wait for Goretzko to come outside so he can snag a slice of roast beef.

Best for smaller to medium-sized dogs. Offers treats and water dishes.

Community Bark's new location (2430 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., 414-364-9274) has founder Andrew Appel ecstatic about meeting the four-legged locals. With 30% more space than his dog wash/coffee bar in Bayside, Appel has expanded the grooming area and Barker Lounge for people and their pets.

Dogs are welcomed in the main area and at any of the eight patio tables. They are not permitted in the coffee and snack bar area. Rules are listed inside.

Best for all dog breeds.
Offers dog services, treats and water dishes.


Mildly dog-friendly, allows them on the patio

Dog-friendly, gives water/treats

Dog-friendly, gives water/treats and has a good amount of space

Dog friendly, gives water/treats, has space and offers activities for dogs to engage in


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