By Lori Fredrich Senior Writer & Dining Editor Published Oct 15, 2020 at 12:35 PM Photography: Lori Fredrich

Drunken Cobra is officially opening its doors today (Oct. 15) at 3 p.m. The new family friendly bar and restaurant is located at 6818 W. North Ave., in the former home of Fish Cheeks, the sushi restaurant which closed in January.

Drunken Cobra will open initially for beverages only, with hours Monday through Wednesday from 3 to 11 p.m., Thursday from 3 to midnight, Friday from 3 p.m. to  close, Saturday from noon to close and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.

The kitchen is expected to open beginning sometime in mid- to late November, offering carry-out and delivery options.

More on Drunken Cobra

Drunken Cobra is owned and operated by Anthony Lampasona, an investor in the former Red Dot who built a reputation for booking the venue’s impressive slate of live bands, and his wife Kristin, who Anthony credits with bringing not only industry experience to the table, but also a liberal dose of level-headedness and business acumen.

It’s a project, he says, which has been in their heads for a while and which he hopes will bring something new – and worthwhile – to the area.

"After investing in Red Dot and being around it for a while, I really grew to like the bar business," says Lampasona of the new venture. "And eventually I knew I really wanted to open a place of my own."

"On the surface, Drunken Cobra might look and smell like a biker bar," he adds. "But it’s really a family friendly spot. I think of it as a modern interpretation of the neighborhood tavern. It’s that true third space... an extension of your living room where people can come, be amongst their neighbors and have great conversations."

On the menu

Lampasona says that Drunken Cobra will feature a full service bar with a large selection of beer, including eight brews on tap, along with an expansive selection of spirits to accommodate a wide variety of drinkers.

Meanwhile, beginning in November, guests can expect a menu of thoughtfully made bar fare including burgers and housemade panini made with Rocket Baby bread, well executed salads, wings and a variety of items that will accommodate vegan and vegetarian customers.

Guests can also look forward to specialties like housemade poutine (a nod to the former Red Dot), locally sourced cheese curds and a few fun surprises.

"I’m from New York," says Lampasona, "So I definitely want to put knishes on the menu. And we’re definitely going to serve New York style bagel sandwiches on the weekends…. We want to bring that element of New York to Tosa, lingo and all. I want people to come in on a Sunday, belly up to the bar and order a BECS [a bacon, egg, cheese and sausage bagel sandwich]."

What’s in a name?

As for the name, Lampasona says there’s not really one cohesive story behind it. But, he says fans of "Family Guy" might get the connection to Drunken Clam, the local Quahog bar where the characters hatch many of their hairbrained schemes.

And the cobra? Lampasona chuckles.

"About a year and a half ago – for no good reason whatsoever – I came home after having a few drinks and told my wife I wanted to take on a new nickname, King Cobra," he says. "My theory behind it is that it would be a whole lot of fun to train people to use it… and what a great ice breaker!"

From there, he says, he became interested in learning more about cobras, a snake he discovered defies a good many common stereotypes.

"People have all of these conceptions about them and how dangerous they are," he says. "But as you dig in you find out all these really interesting things about them. They’re the only snakes that build nests for their young… and they’re some of the only snakes that stick around and care for their young. So they’re really very family oriented. There’s so much people don’t know about cobras… and that really resonated with me."

It’s a name, he says, that creates curiosity. And that’s a portion of the goal. But it’s also a name with which he hopes to create a cohesive, fun brand.

And that’s more than likely. After all, his friends in the music industry have already latched onto the idea.

Lampasona says that the rock band Sponge, who played a few times at Red Dot, are currently coming out with a new record which they’ve named "Night at the Drunken Cobra."

And, the Kentucky-based alternative hip hop group Elephant Room is currently composing a theme song for Drunken Cobra that will be played at the bar.

"We’re having a lot of fun with this," Lampasona says.

And fun is the name of the game at Drunken Cobra, which is also expected to host creative, fun events like a Saturday morning run club that finishes out with mimosas and breakfast sandwiches at the bar and an afternoon Sunday Funday unlike any other. 

"This is a great neighborhood that’s already filled with so many amazing places. So our goal is to create the sort of bar that we love going to… a place with great food, great drinks and a friendly environment. And, at the end of the day, it’s all about exceptional service. We want people, when they leave, to remember the service above everything."

Lori Fredrich Senior Writer & Dining Editor

Lori is an avid cook whose accrual of condiments and spices is rivaled only by her cookbook collection. Her passion for the culinary industry was birthed while balancing A&W root beer mugs as a teenage carhop, fed by insatiable curiosity and fueled by the people whose stories entwine with each and every dish. She’s had the privilege of chronicling these tales via numerous media, including OnMilwaukee and in her book “Milwaukee Food.” Her work has garnered journalism awards from entities including the Milwaukee Press Club. 

When she’s not eating, photographing food, writing or recording the FoodCrush podcast, you’ll find Lori seeking out adventures with her husband Paul, traveling, cooking, reading, learning, snuggling with her cats and looking for ways to make a difference.