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If you haven’t gone out much over the past year – and I don’t know if you’ve seen the news, but considering (*gestures at everything*), you probably haven’t – you may be rather confused and perplexed by the above headline. Brothers … has a patio? Are we thinking of the same Brothers? The one on Water Street? Has the past year broken your mind?
The answer to all those questions – even the last one – is yes. Brothers indeed does have a patio space now – and not just any patio, but arguably one of the most high-tech and impressively multi-use spaces you might find the area.
Even before making their way to the patio, guests will likely notice some significant changes inside Brothers, 1213 N. Water St., from their last visit. The Water Street bar favorite closed down in November 2019 for a significant overhaul of a renovation, expanding its footprint not only into the former frame store next door but into the parking lot as well and modernizing the inside with sleek and warm décor while also showcasing its historic Cream City brick walls. In total, about 90 percent of the bar was updated into something brand new.
"There’s nothing old in the building except for the building itself,” co-owner Marc Fortney told me during my first look at the renovations last fall.
And one of the most notable additions brought to the table at Brothers – arguably the gem of the remodel – was the patio.
Found next to the first floor dining room, occupying the former parking lot space next to the departed frame store, the Brothers patio looks somewhat unassuming, featuring several distanced picnic tables in the refreshed area, decorated simply with the historic brick wall on one side and a new wooden one on the other – both unadorned save for a few TVs showing the big games of the day. (The biggest decoration is behind the patio: a sign declaring “Milwaukee” in the rentable party room.) The space then opens up to both Water Street and the rest of the main dining space with the help of five garage doors.
It’s perhaps not the most personality you’ve ever seen on a patio, but considering it’s not even a year old, it’s got time to find its style. In the time being, when the garage doors open, it nicely blends with the rest of the Brothers space, making the bar and restaurant feel even bigger, more open and more airy even when busy – an appreciated and comfortable atmosphere during the concerns of this past year. The patio’s most interesting and eye-catching feature is one that doesn’t typically come attached to an outdoor space: the roof. Brothers’ patio isn’t just a regular outdoor drinking area; it’s actually a 365-days-a-year space thank to its fancy high-tech roof, able to quietly open and close its metal slats with the easy click of a remote control. During the summer months, Brothers is able to open up the roof to bring in air and that gorgeous Milwaukee summer sun. Then, when things get frosty in the fall and winter, or if it starts to rain, the patio’s able to close things up, keeping the space available no matter the forecast or time of year. And if some people want sun and other people want shade, the patio can accommodate both as Brothers is able to independently control each thin bay of retractable panels.
In case it wasn’t impressive enough, the patio roof also comes with thin strips of glowing LED lights to help set a gorgeous colorful mood – perfect whether it’s enhancing the open-air relaxation with warm mesmerizing hues or bringing in the vibrant dance-floor atmosphere from behind the main bar.
Add in some bag toss, Jenga and Connect Four games scattered throughout the patio during its open hours, and the result is a cozy Water Street alcove – one ready for rain or shine, a picnic or a party. And that’s just the beginning for Brothers patio. Thanks to the unpredictable difficulties of the past year, the bar’s kept from experimenting with events and ideas, but there’s hope, according to general manager Brett Cleary, for utilizing the patio even more – and even more creatively – in the future.
The patio at Brothers is typically open every morning as long as the weather is above 50 and clear. And even if the roof is closed due to the forecast, according to Cleary, the garage doors tend to be open to add to the indoors seating and tie the two spaces together.
As much as it is a gigantic cliché to say that one has always had a passion for film, Matt Mueller has always had a passion for film. Whether it was bringing in the latest movie reviews for his first grade show-and-tell or writing film reviews for the St. Norbert College Times as a high school student, Matt is way too obsessed with movies for his own good.
When he's not writing about the latest blockbuster or talking much too glowingly about "Piranha 3D," Matt can probably be found watching literally any sport (minus cricket) or working at - get this - a local movie theater. Or watching a movie. Yeah, he's probably watching a movie.