By Lori Fredrich Senior Writer & Dining Editor Published Apr 27, 2022 at 6:03 PM Photography: Lori Fredrich

The McKinley Marina Roundhouse is likely to see a spark of new new life beginning this summer as the venue softly reopens under the oversight of The Bartolotta Restaurant Group.

The casual snack bar – which offers lovely views of the lake thanks to its location on the North end of the marina – has been closed since 2018.

However the local restaurant group has noted in a public statementthat they intend to open the Roundhouse for the summer season “as an amenity to Milwaukee’s most valuable asset, the lakefront… to support the city, the Milwaukee County Park as well as the community of boaters.”

According to the statement, the 2022 opening will serve as a soft opening for the venue, which will offer light snacks, refreshments and a sundry store. But the plan is exploratory, the statement notes, as the Bartolotta team will use the soft opening to explore plans for the best iteration and use for the venue in years to come.

Plans for a redux of the venu have been in the works for some time.

In April of 2019, just before the untimely passing of Joe Bartolotta, The Bartolotta Restaurants received Notice of Intent for the property and announced that they had begun discussions with Milwaukee County to assume operations for the Roundhouse. At that time, plans included adding a new kitchen and beer garden, although – for obvious reasons – it’s doubtful that the post-pandemic renovation plans will be quite as grand.

However, the Bartolottas’ have been a longtime partner of Milwaukee County, supporting the development of lakefront amenities for over 25 years. Both Lake Park Bistro and Harbor House are located on public land, and the restaurant group served as  operators for the NorthPoint Custard stand until 2019.

Additional details are expected to be released in the coming weeks.

Lori Fredrich Senior Writer & Dining Editor

Lori is an avid cook whose accrual of condiments and spices is rivaled only by her cookbook collection. Her passion for the culinary industry was birthed while balancing A&W root beer mugs as a teenage carhop, fed by insatiable curiosity and fueled by the people whose stories entwine with each and every dish. She’s had the privilege of chronicling these tales via numerous media, including OnMilwaukee and in her book “Milwaukee Food.” Her work has garnered journalism awards from entities including the Milwaukee Press Club. 

When she’s not eating, photographing food, writing or recording the FoodCrush podcast, you’ll find Lori seeking out adventures with her husband Paul, traveling, cooking, reading, learning, snuggling with her cats and looking for ways to make a difference.