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Wauwatiki, Wauwatosa, WI (restaurant)

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Street:6502 W.North Avenue

Newly planned locale just outside of Milwaukee.

[ Edited by: Kootiki 2015-03-27 12:43 ]

[ Edited by: Kootiki 2015-06-30 06:41 ]

Great news! That rendering is not bad - an A-frame is a good sign! - but it could go both ways: The Moai in the background looks like it was copied from one those Kleenex boxes. And the color on those Tiki masks between the booths has me worried. Let's keep thinking positive thoughts :)

From the article...

The Forrest was thick with foliage and serpents. Even the Olmec people spoke of these aborigines in legendary form. Yes, the Polynesians with their tall tales of shrunken heads, war boats, mai thais, and parties that last until dusk of yonder day. I reached the stone wall and what stood before me was a monolithic gate. The faces of revelry and tribal shindigs hieroglyphed the passage halls. Dangling skulls from what I feared to be people whom never quite caught a ride back down juneau boulevard. I removed my sketchbook and proceeded to take note at the exquisite condition of the remains from the archeological sight of perhaps the most impressive luau of 1979. What's this? A motif of divine nature! Ah yes, a riddle perhaps, yes i see now...
" What one can render, of concepts splendor. Cast down asunder, lest colors blunder."
Upon etching this cryptic jargon into my sketchbook (with what little #2 pencil I had) I heard a great drum looming the corridors. Growing incessantly louder, I could not flee, knowing that this could in fact be my last chance at gathering perhaps the greatest design phase reference wall photo this week. Totems of all sizes began to protrude from the soil beneath my feet, and a great gust consumed the passage. The vines encasing the walls parted and the scorpions scattered. What next was a spectacle no mere blogger could contrive. Out of each crypt stepped the Deities of their time; Rongo (the god of always going close to the edge but never quite crossing it) Lono (the god who was generally a nice guy but always wanted to fight someone if they were talking to his girl) Maui (The god of mythic heroism, surfing and bocci ball) and Shoody Doody (the designated driver who always seemed to forget he told everyone "I'll be the designated driver.")"Great and powerful party animals! What hath stirred you to have risen from yon tombs to standth before me?" I was fearful yet spake boldly.
Their response resounded like that of a tidal wave falling on village peons. "Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiightious Dude, we just wanted to let you know your welcome to come to our new hale on North Avenue. You are e komo mai ewa iki haole." Maui decreed, chastening his bamboo surfboard, decorative spears, and a tuna sandwich. "yeah Brah, were like totally catch'n a wave outta here asap, cuz Lono's a real lolo and forgot the 'ono pakalolo back in kalani. Besides this lu'au is a little dead."
Clearing my throat I interrupted "Gentlemen, um, im not endowed on the native tongue in which you speak, could you be so kind as to lessen your vocabulary unto laymen's terms as for the betterment of conversing?"
Rongo, the largest one, stepped forward sporting dozens of beaded leis and tribal warpaint that seemingly spanned the surface of his body. He spoke softly as he strummed a fine ornamental ukelele. "Easy Nui Tuna, we will teach you kupuna wisdom. Wisdom that Shoody Doody has learned ever since he got that iki wahine hapai. There is hope for lokahi makai."
"But what about this riddle? What about this ancient mystery of the greatest lu'au venue in Milwaukee or perhaps the midwest?"
Shoody Doody brought a large urn of strong drink up to his lips that frothed at his beard. "oh, it means you have to create out of a keiki spirit. Once Kan'e became kama'aina and grew akamai, he forgot how to have fun designing cool stuff. Don't get hung up on the little things in concept renderings, for they can be changed." He paused so as to take another pull of this ancient vessel, passing it off to Lono. "Rather work from the lu'au inside of you. Your kuleana is lokahi. Now e kala mai, I have hele shishi."
Four phantom sea creatures manifested to life out of the solid volcanic rock totems. Swooping under each Tiki brother the ectoplasmic tiger sharks bounded through the vast expanse of shifting seas, engulfing the alter of the great kahuna, making a wikiwiki stop at DQ for a blizzard, and finally arriving at the destination of WauwaTiki; Alas my friends, listen closely, Legend says even mere mortals can go there to party too. Just be patient as we pau hana, ok?


[ Edited by: BarronWolfgangVonDuck 2015-04-03 14:19 ]

I've reached out to those involved with no success...

With 14 years of tiki art under my belt I hoped to offer my services, since my work at Foundation and Lucky Joe's Tiki Room here in Milwaukee is much admired...

Will be interesting to see what the final product looks like.

Bummer Lakesurfer, they would have been lucky to have you build out their bar.

On 2015-04-13 14:22, Lake Surfer wrote:
I've reached out to those involved with no success...

With 14 years of tiki art under my belt I hoped to offer my services, since my work at Foundation and Lucky Joe's Tiki Room here in Milwaukee is much admired...

Will be interesting to see what the final product looks like.

howdy... From Tosa myself and a frequent at Foundation. I plan on building a home Tiki bar soon and would like to get in touch with you.

Hopefully Wauwatiki is the real deal. I heard the owners also own something on water st and are sick of the college crowd. I'll hold my critiques until I see them make a few drinks!

Two more articles on Wauwatiki.

This one is from the same day as the first article (March 27, 2015).

This one is from April 2, 2015 and has some more details about the plans.

The restaurant/bar is a collaboration between Jason Growel and Peter Panagos. A company called Flux Design is doing the build-out. I wonder if they're still on track for a late June opening.

Also, because I don't see it yet in this thread, here is the address. This should really go in the top-most post.

6502 W. North Ave
Wauwatosa, WI 53213

It's not much to look at right now.

Before (GoogleMaps October 2014):



On 2015-06-05 10:08, kenbo-jitsu wrote:
Also, because I don't see it yet in this thread, here is the address. This should really go in the top-most post.

6502 W. North Ave
Wauwatosa, WI 53213

Did and Done, Thanks for the heads up!

Many thanks, Kootiki. Well, it's officially late June. I wonder what's happening.

A couple more interesting things from the internet...

This looks like an alternate version of the dining room rendering.

And here is the floor plan.

On the floor plan, the big tiki out front is referred to as an "interactive sculpture".

Does anyone local to Milwaukee have any news on this place? I've seen nothing on the internet since the initial announcement ~ March/April 2015.


I just drove past it about 3 days ago. Unfortunately, it looks like nothings happening. Plot is for sale. It's too bad really, we could really use a Polynesian place around here. Right now we only have 2 tiki bars. Though, down the block from where Wauwatiki was going to be is a fantastic Hawaiian Take Out and Grocery called Ono Kine Grinds.

[ Edited by: BrewTiki 2015-08-10 04:47 ]


Update on potential opening date. Maybe November now.


And This....


[ Edited by: Kootiki 2015-09-03 17:40 ]

Things are cooking...

I see a bike rack in the floor plan, Nothing chaps my hide more then drunk bicyclists
Goddamn, zero ratio body fat mofos, can't hold their liqueur!!!

That's just science, bitches!

It's more politics than science. The bike racks are prominently labeled on the floor plan because they are intended to appease any concerns the City of Wauwatosa may have about the lack of automobile parking.

The following is from Wauwatiki’s "Plan of Operation and Statement of Conditional Use" document.

... Moreover, WauwaTiki will minimize its effect by drawing customers from the surrounding neighborhoods who will walk and not drive their vehicles. First, two (2) bike racks – one in the front and one in the rear – will accommodate on-site bicycle parking. Second, WauwaTiki will highlight the use of the nearby convenient bus stops and encourage vehicle-driving customers to park once in the area to link their trip by walking to the other nearby food, entertainment, retail and commercial destinations in East Tosa.

Finally, WauwaTiki expects that a sizable number of employees will reside in the area with the ability to walk to work. Employees in general will be encouraged to travel to work by bike, carpool, and mass transit. ...

I guess I should have put one of these ( :lol: ) at the end of my post.

Oops. I was going to post this link


to an article projecting a November opening for Wauwatiki. I just saw now that Kootiki already posted it previously through. Sorry about that, Chief.

The description of the place in the article sounds very promising. Are they still on schedule?

[ Edited by: kenbo-jitsu 2015-11-23 10:56 ]


On 2015-11-23 10:48, kenbo-jitsu wrote:
Are they still on schedule?

No. Only discernible change has been placement of original Flux Design renderings of completed project on windowsills.

The Menehune have been busy. There is a filled dumpster ready for pickup.

Not a single bit of "Tiki" anywhere
Lobsters don't count, not even if they are Rock Lobsters!

After almost a year of delays, expected to be open for business on that most tikiiest of all holidays, St Patrick's Day!


Originally scheduled for Spring 2015. Then November. Then January.

Appears as if plumbing and electrical work has been completed, fixtures in process of being installed and then tikification.


Thanks for all the updates Veronica!

On 2016-01-14 15:30, Atomic Tiki Punk wrote:
Not a single bit of "Tiki" anywhere
Lobsters don't count, not even if they are Rock Lobsters!

I'm delivering a commissioned tiki mask this Tuesday.


I like that, "extensive menu of 5 to 6 tiki drinks." Guess they have never been to Tiki Ti :wink:

Lake Surfer, glad you got in on the project! That will be a huge plus for this place for sure. Hope that it gets completed soon.

Commissioned 2 foot mask... bringing their logo to life.


Very beautiful.

Thatching of building exterior almost complete.

On 2016-02-17 11:48, lunavideogames wrote:
I like that, "extensive menu of 5 to 6 tiki drinks." Guess they have never been to Tiki Ti

Very vexing. Foundation, perennially ranked in Top Ten USA Tiki Bars, is five miles from Wauwatiki. I am petite. So. Only one drink until prohibited BAC. Am still working my way through Foundation drink menu.

The article was not written by Lori Fredrich, with whom I have been conversing for past year. Lucky Joe's Tiki Room on south side of Milwaukee only listed six tiki drinks and two tiki bowls. (Also fifteen Lucky Joe drinks which were tikicentric.) Rachel Minske is newly assigned.

Nothing of previously mentioned rum club. There are USA prefectures with blue law. Purchase bottle of alcohol. Bartender writes name on bottle. For the rest of evening, pay for set ups (bucket of ice and soft drink mixers). Wisconsin has no blue law; however, Wauwatiki patrons have option of purchasing rum — which is marked and kept behind bar. Tiki drinks require more than set ups. There are three liquor stores in neighborhood; Ray's Wine And Spirits, one mile west of Wauwatiki, has extensive rum selection.

Cigarette smoking banned since July 2010. Detrimental especially to shot-and-a-beer open-at-6:00am joints.

Also puzzling is food menu. Within few minutes walking distance is Chinese Pagoda (old school Chinese restaurant more than sixty years), two Mekong Delta restaurants and Ono Kine Grindz (Hawai'ian delicatessen). Not to mention numerous American restaurants and bars which serve food.

Wauwatiki owners have operating bars for many years for the business acumen. It will be interesting.


The lucky day has arrived. If not today, looks like things are at least getting close. Very exciting!

Some drink photos were added to the Wauwatiki FB page.

Glass Two-Faced Tiki Short Clear
One of my fav designs actually, despite its ubiquity.

Witch Doctor Mug Brown

Dynasty Mermaid Mug Blue

I assume that if they're working on drinks, things must be close. Congrats to the owners. It's been a long haul for them.

[ Edited by: kenbo-jitsu 2016-03-17 20:24 ]


Looks like Moday the 4th is it.


And their current website


[ Edited by: Kootiki 2016-04-01 21:08 ]

Now open! ...according to their web site. Local TC'ers go check it out!


Zeta posted on Fri, Sep 2, 2016 11:39 PM

Seems like a cool place made with love...

We went to check out Wauwatiki a couple months ago...

Staff was very friendly, the drinks were quite good and tasty, we didn't sample the food because it was just appetizers and stuff at that point, but have friends who have eaten there since who said the food is delicious.

We tried both an old standby (Mai Tai) and one of their in-house creations, and both were executed with care, fantastic garnish, and appropriate glassware from ChikiTiki. Both could definitely stand up well against any other new-era Tiki bar.

Unfortunately... all the other elements needed for a great Tiki bar are sorely lacking at present. We were there in the afternoon... there are two huge, sunny windows in the front of the bar, and in the back, a glass garage door that lets light pour in. There is a giant TV behind the bar (playing sports) and in the back room a somehow even more gigantic TV also playing sports.

Fortunately, at least on our visit, the sound was muted on both TVs... UNfortunately, the music they were playing instead was of the Bob Marley/Sublime/Jawaiian variety... we heard Shaggy, UB40... ugh. Not good. The volume was appropriate, so there's that.

Decor, otherwise, is extremely minimal at this point... some thatch over the bar, a kinda cool, subtle tiki-faces-in-relief wall behind the main row of booths, some bamboo, a couple lamps... but it mostly felt to me like a warehouse-y chain restaurant with good Tiki drinks, cool mugs (ChikiTiki) and a well-designed menu.

Saddest of all, Dave's awesome mask carving wasn't anywhere to be seen... again, we were there a few months ago, and they hadn't been at it too long at that point, so they might still be getting things arranged..

Overall, we left feeling kind of "Meh." We're all the way on the opposite end of town from Wauwatosa, so I am highly doubtful we'll be making the trek again unless something drastically changes. Maybe with enough input from Tiki lovers, they'll cover their windows, ditch the wall-sized TVs, swap out the Mr. Boombastic music for Martin Denny, add some density to their decor.... but... that's a lot to hope.

Side note: My wife and I went to Wauwatiki for one drink each, paid our tab and left while Sublime was playing. We drove straight due east for a palette cleanser at Foundation where we also had one drink each... our tab at Wauwatiki was exactly $6 more than at Foundation.

That kinda best wraps it up for me. We've been out near Tosa since, and haven't even thought about stopping in.

All that said, I don't like ragging on a place trying to find their sea legs. I hope they figure it out, but I am highly dubious that can happen if the owners think Sublime and rap-y 90's reggae music and huge, expensive TVs are part of the true, classic Tiki Bar experience.

It felt a little "this is popular now, let's try it." The menu design and drinks were great, but it was obvious some of those things were pretty directly lifted from Three Dots & a Dash... the little terrariums on the table, banana dolphins, etc. That all seems like a silly move to me, when one of the absolute best Tiki bars of the modern era is just 5 miles east.


What it sounds like to me is that the Tiki concept was created by the architect/designer (who's into Tiki), and who sold the proprietor on it - but now the owner doesn't really know what to do with it. If the owner of a Tiki place is not fully committed and understands the theme, and doesn't understand that the atmosphere and decor of a Tiki Bar slowly grows and gets denser, it is a stillborn child.

Purely hypothetical thinking on my part, here.

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