By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Dec 15, 2023 at 10:04 AM

Of all the efforts to extend the outdoor dining and drinking season during the pandemic last year, Lakefront Brewery’s riverfront “Hop Houses,” on the RiverWalk, were among the coolest.

Now they're back.

The folks at one of Milwaukee’s oldest craft breweries transformed a quintet of greenhouses used to grow vegetables and herbs during the growing season into winter “Hop Houses” with lights, heaters, wood floors with rugs, and tables with white tablecloths for outdoor hospitality.

Sorry, there are no hops in the houses, beer geeks.

The structures went back to their original use on the garden space to the east when the weather warmed up. Now that the days are getting shorter again, they've been moved back onto the River Walk, as part of Lakefront's recently revamped patio.

Hop Houses
The Hop Houses at rest during the offseason.

Each house can be reserved for up to six or eight people for 90 minutes.

Rental fees are required to book reservations, which come with with a food and beverage minimum.

In addition to having access to Lakefront’s regular food and drink menus, the brewery’s Executive Chef Kristin Hueneke has also created a special preorder menu for groups that can be purchased when a reservation is made.

You can see the menu here.

“We wanted to build something sturdy and high quality to withstand the harsh winter weather. With some help, I actually put them together myself, complete with wood flooring," said Lakefront founder and President Russ Klisch, when the houses debuted.

Klisch built the structures himself (with the help of another person) over five weekends.

Six-person houses are $30 with a minimum $100 spend. Eight-person ones are $40 with a $150 minimum.

Reservation times are available beginning Friday, Dec. 15.

Reservations and more info here.

While you're out there, check out the cool kegnado on the side of the building, which, as I wrote in this Urban Spelunking story, was built as an old power station.

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.