By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Jun 16, 2020 at 2:12 PM

The City of Milwaukee will open the application process for Active Streets for Businesses on Wednesday, June 17 at

As part of the program, businesses can apply for the no-fee pilot program that allows bars and restaurants to seek permission to expand outdoor seating by turning parking lanes, traffic travel lanes and sidewalks for more outdoor tables and chairs.

This will allow them to boost capacity while allowing for social distancing during the ongoing pandemic.

In a webinar on Tuesday, June 9, Mayor Barrett and city officials shared information about the initiative with participating bars and restaurants, indicating that the additional street-side patio expansions would effectively allow venues to expand their outdoor capacities beyond the 25 percent occupancy mandated for both current indoor and patio seating.

The city-wide program adheres to the guidelines put in place by the Milwaukee Health Department’s Moving Milwaukee Forward plan. It joins other initiatives like Restaurant Carryout Zones and the waiving of parklet fees during COVID-19.

You can view a presentation about the program here in PDF format.

Businesses applying for the program must:

  • Attach a site plan with the proposed layout of the outdoor dining area.
  • Comply with health requirements intended to slow or prevent the transmission of COVID-19.
  • Have removable tables and chairs that do not not restrict the pedestrian flow in and out of a building.
  • Comply with all state and local ADA guidelines, including access ramps and furniture selection.

"As the City of Milwaukee focuses on safely continuing and resuming businesses and activities for all sectors of our economy, Active Streets for Businesses allows businesses and patrons an expanded option for increased physical distancing while being in outdoor, well-ventilated areas," said Mayor Tom Barrett in a statement issued Tuesday.

More information on the program can be found at the website linked above.

"As a department we continuously strive for innovative uses of the public way and anticipate great interest for this program," said DPW Commissioner Jeff Polenske in the statement.

Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.

He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.

With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.

He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.

In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.

He has be heard on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories, in that station's most popular podcast.