By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Nov 25, 2020 at 1:31 PM

Scout Wine Merchants, a vibrant new wine and spirits shop with a tasting room and a specialty food shop, officially opens Friday at 4512 N. Oakland Ave. in Shorewood.

The shop – owned and operated by Emily and Luke Laga – occupies the space that was previously home to Thief Wine.

It will be open from 11 a.m until 9 p.m. on Black Friday. The hours, beginning after that, are Tuesday-Wednesday, 11-9; Thursday-Saturday, 11-10; and Sunday, 11-5.

The handsomely outfitted space offers a wide range of treats, as well as a bar, a “secret” speakeasy-like tasting room and a lounge, plus patio space in season.

The lounge boasts an electrifying mural depicting Aretha Franklin, likely the last painted work in Milwaukee by Wallpapered City’s Stacey Williams-Ng before her move to Memphis.

In addition to a well-curated selection of wines from around the globe by the bottle and by the glass, Scout has a carefully selected range of spirits, three taps of beer – including two from Gathering Place, which is brewing a special Scout beer – a cooler full of to-go items, including beer, cheese and salumi, and a variety of unique, specialty flavors, many from local vendors.

There are also tea-totaling options for the non-drinker.

Among the area suppliers are Hook’s and Carr Valley Cheeses, Gathering Place Brewing, New Glarus Beer, Shindig juice, Treat specialty nuts and many others.

There is also a selection of cigars for sale, but there is no smoking in Scout.

Scout has a bright and airy feel in the market combined with an eclectic, casual lounge with a fireplace and comfortable seating, and that lower-light speakeasy-style tasting room. The lounge and tasting room will be available for private events.

Bar stools and other furniture were built by local artisans especially for the space, and the owners worked with a local contractor on its COVID air filtration system.

Here are some photos taken today, while workers were putting last-minute final touches on some aspects...

The bar


Specialty foods

Tap beer


The Aretha mural

Lounge fireplace

Tasting room

Refrigerated to-go items


The owners



Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.

He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.

With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.

He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.

In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.

He has be heard on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories, in that station's most popular podcast.