The Dugout Sports Bistro, 4821 W. National Ave., opened two months ago in West Milwaukee. It's the latest venture by Rick Kosidowski, who's opened a bar each summer for the last three years.
Kosidowski also owns, along with Doug Dexter, Alibi Tavern, 6540 W. Grant St. and the Bitter End, 604 S. 64th St. Dexter manages the Dugout Sports Bistro.
The Dugout is mostly a space dedicated to the Brewers, but other sports will get their time to shine, too. Kosidowski recently purchased a shuttle bus, which now runs between his three bars and Miller Park.
The Dugout is in the space that formerly housed The Jack, Forty8 and Miller Park Way and some of these past occupants were known for upscale food offerings.
"I was just looking to open another tavern, but our cook had really good ideas for the Dugout," says Kosidowski.
The cook, Chris Bohl, created a menu of items that Kosidowski does indeed call "higher end" food.
"It's not too crazy, like food on the East Side, but it's better food than average tavern offerings," says Kosidowski.
Bohl started with an open menu of many different items to get a sense of what people like, and is debuting a new menu of 10 different entrees this week. The Tennessee native peppered his menu with some Southern flair like fried pickles and a rosemary chicken with mac and goat cheese.
These fall right alongside the more common tavern fare of tots and rings, mozzarella sticks and beer-battered 'shrooms.
Bohl also planned a pork chop, salmon and parmesan tilapia items and new sandwiches that build off the burger menu at the Bitter End, with one in fact named after its sister bar. The Bitter End Burger has jalapeños, pepper jack cheese, a chipotle mayo and topped with sautéed mushrooms.
Another sandwich is called "The Sinful Beef." Bohl spreads a caramelized onion and brown sugar spice rub on the slow-cooked roast. It's served with smoked mozzarella and house-made, sun-dried tomato mayonnaise.
Bohl makes a flatbread from grilled pizza dough for the sandwiches. All the sauces are made in-house, including the BBQ for Dugout's jumbo wings, which include Jack Daniels, teriyaki, jerk, spicy garlic, nuclear and ghostly napalm.
Dexter says these aren't the small wings bars usually offer during happy hour, and 12 of them for $7.95 seems like a pretty competitive price. The "Ghostly Napalm" is both a sauce and a contest to eat all 12 of the wings with this hotter-than-hot sauce in 15 minutes or less.
"And it comes with a five-minute after burn," says Kosidowski.
Anyone able to take the heat will get a t-shirt and their picture on the wall.
Dugout Sports Bistro has pizza, a Friday fish fry and has also already developed a large following for its popular Sunday brunch.
The Dugout space sat empty for a few months after The Jack closed in January. Kosidowski says they did a lot of cleaning, but didn't need to remodel much – except for hanging the appropriate sports memorabilia.
The well-kept floors and decorative ceiling of the Dugout are dark and clean. The bar runs along the eastern wall and numerous tall tables take up most of the floor space.
Kosidowski, who says he never really wanted to get into the bar business, currently doesn't have plans to open a fourth bar next summer. Dexter was into real estate and had a tenant running a bar in one of his spaces who wanted out of the business. He contacted Kosidowski and together they decided to open the Alibi. Kosidowski just kept going.
Thirsty sports fans arriving at the Dugout can park on both sides of National Avenue and in the parking lot of a mechanic's shop next door after 5 p.m. and all day on the weekends.
Showing up with your Brewers' ticket entitles you to a buy-one-get-one special.
The Dugout has Guinness, PBR, Bud Light, Miller Lite, High Life, Hacker-Pschorr, Lakefront IPA and New Glarus Spotted Cow on tap with an additional 33 beers in bottles and cans and six wines.
Daily drink specials run from 8 p.m. to close, from Monday's $3 domestic mini-pitchers to Saturday's $3 bombs and $6 tall drinks made with Three Olives vodka. Sailor Jerry "double talls" are $5 every day.
Happy hour pricing is from 11 a.m., when the Dugout opens, until 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and includes $2 rail and $3 call drinks, $2 domestic bottled beers and $3 mini pitchers of domestic brews. Sundays at the Dugout have been renamed "Sunday Funday" because it's happy hour all day.
Food is served from 11 a.m. until 11 p.m. everyday. Bohl's dinner entrees are available starting at 5 p.m.
Dexter's brother is developing a smart phone app called "BAD" (for Bitter End, Alibi and Dugout). The app, which should be available in a couple weeks, will have hours, specials and menus for all three establishments.
Royal has taught courses in critical pedagogy, writing, rhetoric and cultural studies at several schools in Wisconsin and Minnesota. He is currently Adjunct Associate Professor of Humanities at Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design.
Royal lives in Walker’s Point with his family and uses the light of the Polish Moon to illuminate his way home.