By Molly Snyder Senior Writer Published Aug 18, 2020 at 12:02 PM

Ma Fischer's opened at its current location, 2214 N. Farwell Ave., as Fischer Sandwiches in 1932. In 1975, George Panos bought the business and today, the iconic East Side diner is owned and operated by his son, Peter Panos.

And after almost 90 years of business, for the first time ever, Ma's has a patio.

"This is something I always wanted," says Panos. "COVID actually pushed me to finally do it."

Although Ma's has had a liquor license for decades, very little alcohol was actually served. This, too, has very recently changed and the eatery now serves beer, wine and spirits.

"We had Bloodies and mimosas on the weekends, otherwise it was mostly people drinking coffee," says Panos.

The new patio, which is located on the south side of the building in what was formerly a portion of the parking lot, safely seats 15 people.

"Most of my customers are taking COVID very seriously, and so are we," says Panos. "Both on the patio and inside the restaurant."

Throughout the summer, thanks to a new program called the Active Streets for Business and the support of the East Side BID, a variety of East Side venues expanded with patio dining, sidewalk cafes and parklets.

Ma Fischer's is also known as a place to go at bar-time. However, due to the pandemic, Ma Fischer's is not currently open third shift. This is unprecedented for the beacon of drunk eats, and something that will change again in the future.

For now, hours at Ma's – including the patio – are from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Soon, the hours will expand to 11:30 p.m. and eventually Ma's will be a 24-hour spot again.

"Our customers have been great through all of this," says Panos. "Times are tough for a lot of restaurants, but even with all the restrictions, we've been pretty happy." 

For OnMilwaukee's complete guide for outdoor dining, go here.

Molly Snyder grew up on Milwaukee's East Side and today, she lives in the Walker's Point neighborhood with her partner and two sons.

As a full time senior writer, editorial manager and self-described experience junkie, Molly has written thousands of articles about Milwaukee (and a few about New Orleans, Detroit, Indianapolis, Boston and various vacation spots in Wisconsin) that range in subject from where to get the best cup of coffee to an in-depth profile on the survivors of the iconic Norman apartment building that burned down in the '90s.

She also once got a colonic just to report on it, but that's enough on that. 

Always told she had a "radio voice," Molly found herself as a regular contributor on FM102, 97WMYX and 1130WISN with her childhood radio favorite, Gene Mueller.

Molly's poetry, essays and articles appeared in many publications including USA Today, The Writer, The Sun Magazine and more. She has a collection of poetry, "Topless," and is slowly writing a memoir.

In 2009, Molly won a Milwaukee Press Club Award. She served as the Narrator / writer-in-residence at the Pfister Hotel from 2013-2014. She is also a story slam-winning storyteller who has performed with The Moth, Ex Fabula and Risk!

When she's not writing, interviewing or mom-ing, Molly teaches tarot card classes, gardens, sits in bars drinking Miller products and dreams of being in a punk band again.