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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Saturday, Nov. 1, 2014

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The lounge officially opened on New Year's Eve.
The lounge officially opened on New Year's Eve.
Try a Mai Tai at Mai Thai.
Try a Mai Tai at Mai Thai.
Bar manager Tim Johnson (left) and owner Eric Grethe.
Bar manager Tim Johnson (left) and owner Eric Grethe.
Mai Thai is in the former Oriental Coast space.
Mai Thai is in the former Oriental Coast space.
The restaurant space is inviting as well.
The restaurant space is inviting as well.
Wave to the cat!
Wave to the cat!
The owner painted the Thai designed-inspired murals.
The owner painted the Thai designed-inspired murals.

First Look: Mai Thai's new lounge

A few months ago, Bobby Tanzilo had lunch at Mai Thai, 1230 E. Brady St. Like Bobby, I have fond memories of when the space housed Oriental Coast restaurant and had not checked out Mai Thai – a Thai restaurant that recently expanded its bar area – until last night.

Eric Grethe, who is an engineering student at the Milwaukee School Of Engineering, took over the business last summer and on New Year’s Eve he and bar manager Tim Johnson celebrated the grand opening of Mai Thai’s lounge.

The Thai-themed space is very warm and authentic. Grethe, who is part Thai and speaks the language fluently, travels to Thailand every year to visit relatives. His chef, Thun Aung, is a native of Thailand.

The lounge space was a work-in-progress and is finally complete with four new beer taps, hand painted murals by Grethe (some are based on traditional Thai design), ambient lighting, new flooring, window nooks built by Grethe and numerous alluring specials, promotions and upcoming events.

Every Saturday, from 10:30 p.m. to midnight, women can drink free rail drinks. On Friday nights, the lounge offers a free midnight buffet featuring Thai wings, crab rangoon and various other kitchen goodies.

"It’s a hearty, late night snack," says Johnson.

In the future, the lounge will feature live entertainment such as DJs and small dance performances.

There’s also a new cocktail list featuring a list of tropical fruit-and-umbrellas drinks, cocktails including Grethe’s signature whiskey Old Fashioned, four different kinds of sake, martinis (the Thai tea tini looked appealing) and a selection of red and white wines.

One of the most popular new drinks, according to Johnson, is the Bangkok Ale which is a mix of Rehorst gin, muddled Thai basil and ginger, ginger ale and sweet and sour.

"The lounge has a unique feel to it. I think it fits in well with the rest of the Brady Street scene," says Grethe.

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