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The idea of opening a tiki bar has "been on the back burner" of Peter Panagos' mind for quite some time.

When Panagos and his business partners, James Findlay and Jason Growel, found the Home Solutions USA building on West North Avenue, across the street from East Tosa Guitars and near Cafe Blue, it was the "cozy, warm" style he'd been looking for, he said.

Nearly a year after it was announced the tiki bar — called Wauwatiki — would be opening in Wauwatosa, the owners are now projecting a mid-March opening.

Panagos said Wauwatiki likely overpaid for the building, which he described as a "nightmare," but complete renovation work from the ground up allowed the owners to make the space their own, even if the opening date got pushed because of it.

"It looked like it was going to be an easy flip around, but you never know what you're going to get when you take these buildings apart," he said.

Panagos said work to construct the venue from scratch is well underway; staff has been posting progress to its Facebook page, "Wauwatiki."

The bar will be laced with bamboo accents and unique lighting will be strewn about the eatery, Panagos said. Design concepts stem largely from Panagos' love for the Caribbean and warm, tropical places.

Dining will be mostly small plates and will include options such as a pu pu platter that features an assortment of meat — from wings to sliders — with a burning flame in the middle, Panagos said.

The drink menu likely will be extensive, including five to six tiki cocktails, a number of rums and a punch bowl that can be shared by several people.

Wauwatiki will make its own simple syrups and juices, Panagos said. "Great garnishes" and "unique glass wear" will also find a place in the establishment, he said.

"We put our heart and soul into our food and cocktails," he said.

When it opens, Wauwatiki will serve its patrons from 11 a.m. to close daily.

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