Things haven’t been going too well at 2121 S. Kinnickinnic. Ever since Subway closed its location in Suite #8 of the Bay View Commons building about five years ago, the space has been a quickly revolving door of drastically different restaurant concepts that have come and gone in rapid succession. There was Fuji Poké in early 2019, followed by Taco Stop MKE in 2020, and finally Sisu Cafe for part of 2022 into early 2023.

Whether a byproduct of bad luck, a worldwide pandemic, cuisine that didn’t resonate for whatever reason, or simply the very location itself, this corner property hasn’t exactly conveyed good fortune to its tenants lately. However, if there is a business that could possibly dispel the curse of 2121 S. KK, it might be Patty Shack. The fast casual burger concept, which originated in Utah of all places, opened its first location in Wisconsin (and first one outside its home state, for that matter) in the aforementioned Bay View Commons property late last week. We stopped by for lunch during on Monday to try Patty Shack for ourselves.

Upon entering around 11:30 a.m., we were met with an abundance of warm greetings from the staff on hand. After exchanging pleasantries and taking some time to examine the menu, we stepped up to the register and placed our order with an especially friendly and helpful employee named Adonis, who got us up to speed with info like all burgers come with fries and “fry sauce.” We placed our order, left a tip (which is totally optional and was presented as a no-pressure proposition, so hold off on leaving that genius “DuH – yOu HaVe To TiP 4 fAsT fOoD bUrGeR?!!!?” comment) and took a seat as we waited for our name to be called.

While waiting the six or seven minutes for our order to arrive, we took note of the dining area. Admittedly, the clean and sterile interior looked pretty much the same as it did when it was a Subway, during our one and only visit to Fuji, and our handful of carryout order pickups from Taco Stop…except there were pictures of burgers on the wall now. There was a muted TV showing ESPN and pop music played over the speakers. Before you say anything: the folding chairs are only temporary. We learned as much when we overheard the manager explain to two other customers that the restaurant was waiting for its actual chairs to be delivered and it would be arriving in a few days.

Within minutes of placing our order, a tray consisting of fries, fry sauce, and a foil-wrapped burger was brought to our table. Patty Shack keeps it simple, with five burger variations, a BLT, a grilled cheese, and a “Maddie Melt” that’s essentially an elevated grilled cheese with veggies and condiments added to it. There are also onion rings and some desserts available. Though the menu items are pared-down, there’s a bunch of additional toppings, sauces, and extras on hand—most of which are free or available for a slight upcharge—that can help you build the burger of your dreams.

On this first trip, we kept it simple with a bacon cheeseburger topped with tomato, pickles, lettuce, diced raw onion, ketchup, and mustard. Though we opted for the single patty, the soft and smushy bun was liberally stuffed with a big stack of meat, cheese, veggies, and condiments. The first thing we noticed was the freshness of the ingredients. The tomatoes were juicy and full of flavor, the pickles were abundant, and both the lettuce and onion packed a crunch. The beef wasn’t lacking and, upon isolating a bite of just the flattop-fried meat, we found it to be juicy and well seasoned.

Admittedly, the bacon kind of got lost in the mix, so we’ll likely either spring for a double burger or add some pastrami or jalapenos the next time we stop in. Oh, and after a few bites of the burger, we put some of the fry sauce (seemingly a combination of ketchup and mayo) on it to take it to the next level. Between the burger and the crunchy, delicious skin-on fries that are cut in-house, we were sitting pretty for about the same price a combo meal currently goes for at Wendy’s and significantly less than spots like Shake Shack and Five Guys sell their comparable burgers for.

Patty Shack kind of exists in this strange station of not being a full-fledged sit down restaurant, but having a noticeably higher quality than a typical drive thru fast food restaurant. The burger market is already crowded and Milwaukee boasts dozens of local spots with excellent burgers that deserve your attention. With that in mind, there’s no telling if the city’s (and the state’s) first Patty Shack will experience the same fate is previous occupants of 2121 S. Kinnickinnic, but with tasty takes on fast casual burgers and an extremely friendly staff, it’s quite possible the curse ends here.

About The Author

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Co-Founder and Editor

Before co-founding Milwaukee Record, Tyler Maas wrote for virtually every Milwaukee publication (except Wassup! Magazine). He lives in Bay View and enjoys both stuff and things.