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Riverwest Co-Op closes café operations, grocery store remains open

Posted at 7:04 AM, Jul 12, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-12 19:29:20-04

MILWAUKEE — It's an announcement that brought Nick Baran to tears. For the first time in more than two decades since the Riverwest Co-Op Grocery and Cafe opened, it's closing its doors to the cafe. For now.

"I think of it as a very important hub of the community and I want it to survive. We have so many challenges that we're facing," said Baran.

The announcement was made on social media over the Fourth of July weekend. Baran, the store's coordinator, says the pandemic hit the co-op hard. Between staffing shortages, plus funding challenges, they had no choice but to close up shop on Monday, July 11.

"We had to look at things and be like if we want to save the co-op as a whole, we need to make cuts somewhere. So we chose to cut the café," said Baran.

Ruth Weill has been coming to the co-op for the past 18 years and says while she's sad to hear the news, she's not surprised.

"I understand the situation. Covid has hit a lot of people very hard," said Weill. "A lot of restaurants and bars and food-related vendors have struggled."

Baran says the co-op's grocery store portion is still open and will continue to operate seven days a week. There are also plans to try and keep the cafe space active.

"We're going to continue to do grab and go as long as we can. We are looking at the opportunity to possibly allow other people to use the space," said Baran.

Baran adds that it's not a goodbye, but a see you later, and plans to hopefully reopen the cafe someday in the future.

"We need people to volunteer, we need people to shop, and we need people to rally around the co-op," said Baran.

To learn more about the Riverwest Co-Op, click here.

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Riverwest Co-Op Grocery and Café announced Monday that the café side of the business is closed for the "foreseeable future."

The grocery store will stay open for now, but like the café, its future remains uncertain as well.

“We’re sad to announce that the cafe at the Riverwest Co-op is closing today after 18 years of serving our neighbors and the greater Milwaukee area,” said Grocery Coordinator Nick Baran in a press release. “We want to express our sincere gratitude to everyone who supported the cafe over the years, especially in the last few months. Unfortunately, after looking hard at the numbers, the board of directors determined it was impossible to continue regular cafe service.”

The business began its operations in 2001. Grocery sales will determine whether the business will continue to stay open in the upcoming months.

The co-op said they will focus their energy on operating the grocery store. Grocery sales have been up and down since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Like many other restaurants, the Co-Op Café closed its doors for most of 2020 and 2021. They said sales have yet to return to pre-pandemic profits.

The grocery store remains open seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

For more information visit here.

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