By Lori Fredrich Senior Food Writer, Dining Editor, Podcast Host Published Mar 30, 2016 at 8:01 PM

It’s been a long time in coming, but Wauwatiki, the tiki-themed bar and restaurant coming to 6502 W. North Ave., will open its doors to the public on Monday, April 4 beginning at 4 p.m. 

Wauwatiki will be primarily bar-only for its first week in business, says co-owner Panagiotis (Peter) Panagos, noting that the slight delay in rolling out the food portion of the venue will ensure that kitchen staff have time to work and get used to the new space.

However, the restaurant has worked out a partnership with their neighbors at Ono Kine Grindz.

"We’ll be catering in some options from them during the first week," says Panagos. "And from there on out, they’ll actually be one of our suppliers. We’ll be working with them to source a variety of sausages. And they’ve given us their tuna poke recipe, which will be on the menu."

On the bar side of things, people can expect classic tiki drinks as well as some unique Wauwatiki creations like a single barrel old fashioned made with Single Barrel Cruzan rum, says Panagos. Mai Tais will be made with the classic Trader Vic's recipe, thanks to sponsorships from Mount Gay and Trader Vic's Rum. In the classic tiki style, there will also be drinks built for sharing, including a punch bowl that serves six to eight guests.

Panagos says the bar has already acquired a collection of more than 50 rums. There will also be a Cruzan Single Barrel club through which patrons can buy a personal bottle of rum, which will be kept for them at the Wauwatiki bar.

The journey for Panagos and his partners James Findlay and Jason Growel has been fraught with construction delays and detail work, which postponed the opening by almost six months. However, occupancy for the space has now been granted, and the team says they’re ready and excited for the launch.

Others are excited right alongside them, including Ald. Joel Tilleson.

"We're grateful for the investment in our thriving commercial district, and for Pete [Panagos], Jason [Growel] and Jimmy [Findlay] for bringing this unique business to Wauwatosa," he says. "Wauwatiki fits the eclectic character of East Tosa very well."

"I’ve been involved with a lot of bar and restaurant projects over the years," says Panagos. "But, this project literally beats out every other one. Flux was amazing to work with, and we’ve had so much support from Ald. Joel Tilleson, FF&SJ, and David Glazer … they all fought battles for us and got us where we are. And things like this don’t happen without the support of everyone involved."

Beginning April 4, Wauwatiki will be open from 4 p.m. to close daily. Once the kitchen is open for business, the bar and restaurant will open at 11 a.m. daily.

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.