Highway 100 construction continues to cripple dozens of businesses along the route as the project enters year two. Some restaurants are claiming major losses due to the massive project.
Highway 100 is the business hub of Hales Corners, but for the past couple years, many of those businesses are having to remind customers they’re still here.
"A lot of people don’t like to come out because of the construction, they avoid it at any cost," Open Flame Manager Ryan Kintop said.
Open Flame, a food and cocktail bar on Highway 100, is caught up in the thick of phase three of construction as work on the southbound lanes go right up to the restaurant's property. Things just got worse for the rotisserie style restaurant as a ramp connecting to the interstate also shut down for construction.
"For the last year, it is so bad for us," Confucius Chinese Restaurant Owner Shihai Wang said.
Wang said he saw a 40% decrease in customers last year when his business was surrounded by construction.
"I used to have four part-time waitresses, because they don’t make much money, they cannot make tips, so I bring my wife and my kid to help me," he said.
The Wisconsin Department of Transportation said the $22 million project was a must as the 60-year-old roadway hit the end of its lifecycle. After a slow end to fall construction followed by a sluggish start to spring due to weather, road work is set to be complete by late fall. The final product is expected to increase the highway’s current driver count from 60,000 a day - to 80,000. Kintop said the long-term payoff should be worth their current losses.
"They’re telling us it’s going to bring a lot more people into the area so hopefully it will benefit us," he said.