By Molly Snyder Senior Writer Published Aug 18, 2022 at 4:01 PM

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The Packing House, 900 E. Layton Ave., opened in 1974, and almost 50 years later, a patio was added to the iconic bar and restaurant.

“The vision was to create a truly unique and comfortable space that brought our atmosphere and vibe from inside to outside,” says General Manager Chris Wiken, whose parents Keith and Margaret Wiken originally founded The Packing House, a casual supper club know for its steak, seafood, Friday fish fry, cocktails, cold beers and live jazz.

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And indeed, the massive brick patio maintains the look-and-feel of the retro-contemporary interior.

The patio was built last fall by a local company, Awesome Landscape Concepts, and the final details were completed last month.

“We planned this project for almost a year before construction. We checked out dozens of patios from all across the area. We wanted ours to be special and different. I believe we really did accomplish that,” says Wiken.

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Wiken says they spared no expense on the new alfresco space. The perimeter of the patio is lined with high-end heaters and the retractable roof can be fully or partially opened.

“This allows sun on sunny days and blocks it on really hot days. It also means the patio can still be used when it’s raining,” says Wiken.

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The patio also features a waterfall for white noise and a 6-foot gas fireplace that kicks out warmth and ambiance.

“I am extremely happy with the way everything turned out. Every detail has been considered. The ambiance is just what we were looking for. It truly does carry our inside atmosphere outside,” says Wiken. “We have speakers playing the music from inside. It’s an upscale look and feel that matches what we have been known for nearly 50 years.”

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Wiken says the family never considered building a patio until the pandemic and more diners requested outdoor seating. Plus, the idea of embracing Wisconsin’s fleeting summers appealed to the Wikens.

“Being in Wisconsin, we all want to squeeze every drop of warm weather and enjoy the outdoors. This allows us to attract that audience that’s looking for a more upscale dining experience outside. We decided now was the time as all of those factors came together,” says Wiken.

The Packing House patio is open for lunch and dinner. Wiken hopes to keep it operational into November.

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Patios, especially fine dining patios, are rare to none in the Packing House's part of the South Side.

“It’s truly unique to the area. It’s comfortable and cozy. The many features makes for a very unique outdoor dining experience,” says Wiken.

Molly Snyder started writing and publishing her work at the age 10, when her community newspaper printed her poem, "The Unicorn.” Since then, she's expanded beyond the subject of mythical creatures and written in many different mediums but, nearest and dearest to her heart, thousands of articles for OnMilwaukee.

Molly is a regular contributor to FOX6 News and numerous radio stations as well as the co-host of "Dandelions: A Podcast For Women.” She's received five Milwaukee Press Club Awards, served as the Pfister Narrator and is the Wisconsin State Fair’s Celebrity Cream Puff Eating Champion of 2019.