Brandywine plan expands, changes outdoor seating

By Laurie Arendt

April 4, 2019

 The grassy spot on the right will be paved and turned into a patio at the Brandywine Restaurant on Spring Street and Washington Avenue in Cedarburg.
Photo by Mark Justesen

CEDARBURG — As with any new restaurant venture, it takes some time to see what will work and what doesn’t. Brandywine owners Andrew and Rhiannon Wilson have done just that in the eight months or so since their restaurant opened.

“We needed a year to get started,” said Rhiannon Wilson as she discussed the restaurant’s new outdoor seating plans.

The Wilsons were before the Plan Commission to seek a recommendation regarding the seating as part of their annual outdoor alcohol beverage license. The license is reviewed on an annual basis.

As proposed, the Wilsons plan to remove the seating along Spring Street. on the south side of the building – after a season, they realized the functionality of having seating there just wasn’t working very well – and limit the seating along Washington Avenue at the front of the building to three tables. In lieu of this seating, the Wilsons are proposing to instead add an enclosed patio behind the northeast corner of the building.

Last year prior to the restaurant opening, the question of whether or not Brandywine could offer outdoor seating and alcohol service was a topic of intense debate, as serving the south side of the restaurant required servers to cross into, and possibly serve, in the public right of way. This is only allowed under ordinance in specific situations, such as city festivals.

Because of the age of the building and the public areas of downtown Cedarburg, it was difficult for the city to determine what part of the seating area was private property and what part may have encroached into the public right of way. A new survey could have been completed at the time, but it was cost prohibitive for the Wilsons. The city ultimately decided to issue a liquor license, but also created an agreement that indemnified the city on the chance servers crossed into the public right of way and an incident occurred.

The 2019 plan effectively eliminates the issues that were discussed last year. The new seating area would include six tables, all of which would be accessible through the existing interior dining space. The Wilson plan to pave the patio space and surround it with a six-foot tall fence, an element that is not required under code.

“I think it looks really good and seems like a natural to get it off the street, especially with the success other people have had in putting dining space into their backyards,” said Commissioner Mark Burgoyne at Monday night’s Plan Commission meeting.

“It makes much more sense,” said Rhiannon Wilson. “Hopefully this will make that dining area really desirable.”

Commissioner Sig Strautmanis questioned the restaurant’s hours of operation, whether dining would be allowed at all times the restaurant was open and whether there were any concerns in regards to neighbors, as the proposed dining area is behind the building and closest to residential neighbors.

“Generally speaking, they typically go with hours of the restaurant, they go hand in hand,” said City Planner Jon Censky.

“Mr. Wirth has his garages right there (on Spring Street) and he’s the one (resident) right off the back,” said Rhiannon Wilson. “He’s also the person that asked why we didn’t put outdoor seating back there.”

Commissioner Pat Thome questioned whether or not there needed to be exterior access through the proposed fencing.

“It was reviewed by the fire department, who did not note it was an issue,” said Censky.

Commissioner Adam Volz also questioned whether outside access would provide better ADA accessibility.

The plan itself was before the Plan Commission for a recommendation to the Common Council, and it received a unanimous recommendation.

<<EARLIER: Brandywine cleared for outdoor dining, serving in Cedarburg