By Lori Fredrich Senior Writer & Dining Editor Published Jun 01, 2021 at 11:01 AM

It’s been 442 days since Sanford, 1547 N. Jackson St., last seated diners in the restaurant. But all of that is about to change. 

The restaurant, which has subsisted on curbside pick-up for over a year, will be opening its doors to dine-in guests beginning Friday, June 11, with reservations available for dine-in guests beginning June 2 at 1 p.m.

“There’s still so much uncertainty surrounding the pandemic,” says Chef Justin Aprahamian, who operates the restaurant with his wife Sarah. “So we’ve been biding time and carefully weighing out our options for reopening. Fortunately, the availability of vaccines, combined with the reassurance that comes with having our staff fully vaccinated, has allowed us to take a multi-pronged approach to re-opening.” 

As a result, Sanford will follow a three-phase reopening plan which allows them to reopen smartly and efficiently while making adjustments as needed. The first phase of the plan will last through July 5, with abbreviated hours and a limited menu, expanding into phases two and three as safety and operational considerations warrant. 

Aprahamian emphasizes that the safety of guests is paramount, followed by the staff’s ability to provide the unmatched dining experience that consumers have come to expect from the iconic fine dining establishment.

Chef Justin Aprahamian
Chef Justin Aprahamian
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What to expect

Guests who choose to dine at the restaurant will find a newly refreshed interior including newly painted walls, new carpeting, new ceiling tiles and a new sound system. Aprahamian says that about six tables have also been removed from the dining room to allow for more space between dining parties and a more limited capacity as advised by the CDC.

Sanford staff will remain masked at all times, and (at least initially), all guests will be asked to wear masks while entering and moving about in the restaurant. Guests are welcome to remove their masks while seated at their tables.

To start, guests will also find an abbreviated four course menu, which offers multiple choices for each course, highlighting a combination of both new seasonal dishes and Sanford classics. The regular a la carte menu and surprise tasting menu will not be available during the first phase of reopening to allow for the kitchen to effectively transition back to service and remain nimble.

Aprahamian says they will also continue to offer carry-out for guests when they re-open; however, they are likely to offer one meal option each week, along with suggested pairings. 

“We definitely want to accommodate those who don’t feel comfortable dining inside,” he saayss. “But we have to be very cognizant of how we operate, as we don’t want to compromise the service and offerings for our guests.”

During phase two, beginning July 5, the Sanford surprise tasting menu will also make its return, as well as the addition of Monday hours. You can view the full three-phase plan at sanfordrestaurant.com

Initial reopening hours will be Tuesday through Thursday from 5:30 to 9 p.m. and Saturdays from 5 to 10 p.m. (expanding to include Monday evening dining beginning July 5). 

Reservations will be accepted by phone at (414) 276-9608 beginning June 2 after 1 p.m. Please inform staff of any food allergies or dietary restrictions at the time of your reservation to allow time for accommodations to be made. Guests are also asked to refrain from bringing children to the restaurant for dine-in service for the time being.

Valet parking is available for a $10 charge (added to your check). Street parking is also available.

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.