Tipsy Cow

The Tipsy Cow Downtown opened in the spring of 2011. It's about to branch out to a second location, this one in Sun Prairie. 

John Hart

After a three-year search, the owners of Tipsy Cow just off the Capitol Square are opening a second location, this one in Sun Prairie. 

"It has been a long road to get here, but we are really excited," said Michael Banas, who owns the 7-year-old bar and restaurant with Patrick O'Halloran and Sue Kirton. The three are all partners in the new venture.

Banas and O'Halloran also co-own Lombardino's on the Near West Side and are currently in Italy to gain inspiration for that restaurant. 

The Sun Prairie Tipsy Cow will be the first tenant in a new building at the Shoppes at Prairie Lakes, a giant retail and office development that includes Costco, Cabela's, Target, and a Marcus Palace Cinema. It will be in building G, Unit 107. The new restaurant is expected to be open by next summer, Banas said.

Tipsy Cow Downtown is in a historical flatiron building, and the unique space is sometimes inefficient with its basement kitchen, Banas said.

"With new construction, we are able to design it to capture the timeless bar feel, but have the efficiencies needed for today’s restaurant requirements," he said in an email. "We are very much trying to keep it simple and comfortable which is what I think the current Tipsy Cow does as well."

The new restaurant will expand on the offerings of the current Tipsy Cow because it will have a larger kitchen with more equipment.

"Madison has really embraced Tipsy Cow and we’re so proud of what it has become," Banas said. "We know we have more we can do under the concept, but are very limited with the kitchen size Downtown."

They liked the Prairie Lakes development because it's close to downtown Sun Prairie and also accessible from the East Side of Madison, Banas said. They expect to draw customers from the nearby Palace Cinema and a new hotel going up across from Cabela's.

Also, Sun Prairie itself is growing. It was one of four Dane County communities — Madison, Fitchburg and Verona were the others — among the top 10 to gain population in Wisconsin from 2015 to 2016, according to census estimates.

Before Tipsy Cow, the partners opened King & Mane, a restaurant offering an American spin on Mexican and Spanish cuisine, in the same location at 102 King St. It didn’t make it, and now two new taco places on and near the Square are thriving.

"It has been great to see. We love Mexican food," Banas said of the trend.

Tipsy Cow kept many dishes from King & Mane’s menu and they've been well-received. The PBR-battered fish taco started at King & Mane continues to be Tipsy Cow's "most sought-after special," he said.

Banas said he and his partners took their time deciding where to put their second location. A couple other spaces they looked at fell through, including a spot in Monona. He's not ready to say if they will continue to grow beyond Sun Prairie. 

"We are taking it one step at a time," Banas said. "This new location will be larger than Tipsy Cow Downtown and we just want to concentrate on making it the best that it can be."

Tipsy Cow has been successful because of its great employees and quality food, he said. "We love cooking up Knoche’s beef, topping it with Wisconsin cheese and Nueske’s smoked bacon and serving it on a buttery bakery bun.

"Taking the familiar and exceeding your expectations. That is our goal every day."

Read more Restaurant News at: http://go.madison.com/restaurantnews.

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Wisconsin State Journal food writer Samara Kalk Derby brings you the latest news on the Madison area's eclectic restaurant scene.