By Lori Fredrich Senior Food Writer, Dining Editor, Podcast Host Published Sep 03, 2015 at 6:57 PM

After being delayed by numerous factors, plans for Wauwatiki, the Polynesian themed bar and restaurant planned for the building at 6502 W. North Ave., is officially moving forward.

A $100,000 forgivable loan administered by the Community Development Authority in Wauwatosa, will provide partial financing for the project.

Closing for the building is set for Sept. 16 and, assuming all goes well, the owners say they will move forward with the groundbreaking as soon as possible.

Partners on the project include Panagiotis (Peter) Panagos, owner of Hotch, 1813 E. Kenilworth Pl.; James Findlay, formerly of Ugly’s at 1125 N. Old World 3rd St. and Jason Growel, owner of the Eastsider at 1732 E. North Ave.

Panagos says the plans for the space have changed little from the initial proposal submitted for the venue this past spring.

Plans for the space include traditional rum-based tiki drinks, along with beer, wine and other cocktails. Panagos says the partners are also considering barreling and aging their own rum in house.

The menu, which will have a Polynesian theme, will include items including a signature burger, wings (in flavors like Caribbean jerk), coconut shrimp and plantains.

"We’re really aiming to stay true to the idea of pub food, but take it a step further," says Panagos. "The idea is that the quality of the food will match that of the cocktails."

Flux Design has been contracted to transform the Arts & Crafts-style building into an island paradise, including large booths and plenty of space for diners to socialize. A large tiki statue that doubles as a chair will be a notable feature in front of the restaurant.

"The whole fun of this project for me is the decor," says Panagos. "Every aspect of the space will be designed to fit the space. What it won’t be is a cheesy tiki theme."

Wood carvings, designed Dave Hanson, a Cudahy artist who specializes in tiki-carvings and "Polynesian pop" pieces, will add to the ambiance.

"We want you to feel as if you’re walking through the door and into paradise," Panagos says. "When you’re inside, we want you to forget that it’s 30 below outside."

A three-seasons room in in the plans, as well as a wraparound deck for outside seating.

"The city has been amazing,"  "Despite all the setbacks we’ve had, Wauwatosa has always been amazing. In general, the support for this project has been insanely good, and we’re really grateful for that. It’s like nothing we’ve ever experienced."

Panagos also expressed thanks to real estate agent David Glazer and Ald. Joel Tilleson for their support throughout the process.

"We’re shooting for late November opening," says Panagos, "We would like to be open before the new year no matter what."

Watch OnMilwaukee for additional details as they develop.

Lori Fredrich Senior Food Writer, Dining Editor, Podcast Host

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.