By Andy Tarnoff Publisher Published Nov 07, 2001 at 5:36 AM

If you're looking for further proof that the Milwaukee nightlife scene is changing and evolving, look no further than the corner of Prospect and Kenilworth: the new Dragon Lounge is, according to its owners, a Pan-Asian cocktail experience. And rest assured, this hip new addition to the East Side bar scene is nothing like Milwaukee has ever seen before.

The Dragon Lounge (1932 E. Kenilworth Pl.) is located in the spot formerly occupied by Kazooz and the Warehouse. But take one step inside and you'll notice that it has a completely different vibe than its predecessors.

Maroon and jade green barren walls, huge tropical fish tanks, bamboo everywhere and low-key neutral furniture and sofas set the scene. The music isn't too loud -- you can carry on a conversation here without yelling -- and it ranges from trip hop to lounge to the slightly funky. Think Jamiroquai and you'll get the idea.

Owners Adam Miklas and Matt Plusnick are also hoping to bring in "high end DJs" for special events and private parties.

"Bar owners are starting to realize that people want to be in a place where there are comfortable couches where you can sit, you can bring a date or you can talk to your friends -- a place where the music isn't screaming," says Miklas.

So how did the East Side merge with the Far East?


"We had a general idea of what we wanted," says Miklas. "We wanted a nicer, hipper club and cocktail lounge. We wanted a more exotic flare with comfort, vivid colors and especially the fish tanks to give it a relaxing feel."

The bar opened the first week in November, and business has been steady, says Miklas. For the two friends and business partners, opening this bar was a dream come true that was realized in just over a month.

"The Asian theme evolved. It came together in about five weeks, through a lot of restless evenings and late nights. It was a tool for us to do something exotic," says Plusnick.

And though it's unconventional for Milwaukee, to say the least, it appears the lounge is pulling it off. Because of its Eastern-influenced layout, it has the appearance of a much larger bar.

"We're ecstatic about the way it's turned out," says Plusnick. "We started with the jade green color, and to make this place as different from Kazooz as possible, we wanted to draw all the attention away from the walls, to the furniture and fish tanks."

As far as the lounge's drink menu, Mikas says he isn't trying to reinvent the wheel, but he has some ideas about what they can do to be unique.

"We want to offer some theme martinis that fit in with the dragon concept of power and sensuality and strength."

Andy is the president, publisher and founder of OnMilwaukee. He returned to Milwaukee in 1996 after living on the East Coast for nine years, where he wrote for The Dallas Morning News Washington Bureau and worked in the White House Office of Communications. He was also Associate Editor of The GW Hatchet, his college newspaper at The George Washington University.

Before launching in 1998 at age 23, he worked in public relations for two Milwaukee firms, most of the time daydreaming about starting his own publication.

Hobbies include running when he finds the time, fixing the rust on his '75 MGB, mowing the lawn at his cottage in the Northwoods, and making an annual pilgrimage to Phoenix for Brewers Spring Training.