A tropical ‘staycation’ site year-round in Waukesha
Key Westconsin brings taste of Florida to downtown

By Kirsten Klahn - Special to The Freeman

March 12, 2014

Gary Krivos offers a tropical drink at Key Westconsin Tuesday afternoon.
Charles Auer/Freeman Staff

WAUKESHA -  Key West, Fla., is known for Ernest Hemingway, Robert Frost and Duval Street.

A little closer to home in downtown Waukesha, it’s also known for a tiki bar, tropical drinks and seafood.

Key Westconsin, 331 Riverfront Plaza, brings you as close to the southernmost point of the U.S. as you can get without leaving the county. Everything at the restaurant is designed to bring guests the feeling of being on a “staycation,” said owner Gary Krivos.

“We have a lot of people who come in here who can’t afford to go to Key West this time of year,” Krivos said. “I think people start to get cabin fever.”

From the 270-degree mural that provides a horizon view to the tiki bar that pours tropical drinks, Key Westconsin provides a temporary respite from the state’s grueling winter. The restaurant, which was opened in January 2011 by Krivos and his wife, Rita, also contains tropical plants, hurricane lamps and fake parrots as part of its Key West decor.

“As long as you’re not looking out the front window at the piles of snow, the mural provides a great view,” Krivos said. “We’ll have people request to sit in the back by the decorations, so they’re not facing that window.”

Key Westconsin.
Charles Auer/Freeman Staff

But the restaurant offers more than just a relaxed atmosphere.

Krivos said the food and drinks served at the restaurant are also designed with vacationers in mind. The menu, which he estimates is 95 percent gluten-free, includes plenty of fresh seafood, furthering the restaurant’s theme. However, it also offers items that could be found in other places as well, such as New England, he said.

Popular menu items include the seafood casserole, seafood platter and scallops. And, the drink menu only furthers the feeling of being on a “staycation.”

Guests have a choice of drinks served under the restaurant’s thatched roof bar, such as Hurricanes, Rum Runners, Sea Breezes and the restaurant’s signature colada drink.

For those hoping to get their “staycation" started, Key Westconsin is open year-round Tuesdays through Saturdays for lunch and dinner. The restaurant also opens on Saturdays for breakfast during the farmer’s market season.

After all, Krivos said, if people can’t get away, they can at least pretend they are.

“The whole idea is to get people to at least be able to come here and enjoy a staycation,” Krivos said.