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Doc's Smokehouse & Craft Bar expands to Milwaukee, Mokena

The bar and main seating area at Doc's Smokehouse & Craft Bar, a restaurant and craft beer bar in Dyer. It's opening new locations in Milwaukee and Mokena. 

Tony V. Martin

Doc's Smokehouse & Craft Bar in Dyer has earned rave reviews for its barbecue and its selection of 60 craft beers on tap, which have proven so popular that it's now expanding to Milwaukee and Mokena, Illinois. 

The new restaurant and craft beer bar at 1420 Calumet Ave. often has waits for a table on its busy Friday and Saturday nights. Owners Dr. Himanshu Doshi and lifelong restaurateur Brent Brashier are expanding the concept to other locales less than a year after the first Doc's opened in Northwest Indiana.

"It's the food," Brashier said. "Our style of barbecue is very popular in the South, but there's not a lot of it up here. The craft beer selection helps."

Doc's expanded to Milwaukee because an opportunity emerged at a hotel development, and picked the Mokena site because of growth in Will County, particularly in Mokena, New Lenox, and Frankfort. The Mokena Doc's is under construction and will open in April.

The restaurant plans to hire about 100 workers at each of its two new locations, which will both seat about 200 diners, or twice as many as Dyer. It just had a soft opening of its restaurant at 754 N. 4th Street in downtown Milwaukee, across from the convention center and a new Milwaukee Bucks NBA arena that's under construction.

"There's a lot of foot traffic," Brashier said. "We just opened without any kind of promotion and more than 200 people came in. Milwaukee's a great town that flies under the radar because it's in the shadow of Chicago. It's got Summerfest, a great music scene – it reminds me of Austin in the early 2000s."

The Milwaukee Doc's is in a former Ad Lib Nightclub, which OnMilwaukee said had a rich history as an Army surplus store, a cocktail lounge, and a nightclub that hosted jazz greats like Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk, Wes Montgomery, Dizzy Gillespie, and Count Basie. It went on to become a mob-owned strip club and Milwaukee's first drag club. It's attached to a SpringHill Suites hotel.

As a tribute, Doc's has named a cocktail the Ad Lib. The menus will be the same at all locations, and Brashier expects to develop a fried cheese curd appetizer for Milwaukee that will eventually be sold in Dyer. 

"The menu is what makes us successful," he said. "We have a total commitment to barbecue. We will never have a hamburger on the menu. We do one thing, and we do it very well."

For more information, visit docsbbq.net.

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Business reporter

Joseph S. Pete is a Lisagor Award-winning business reporter who covers steel, industry, unions, the ports, retail, banking and more. The Indiana University grad has been with The Times since 2013 and blogs about craft beer, culture and the military.