We are a natural food store and cafe located in Milwaukee’s vibrant Riverwest neighborhood. We are dedicated to providing the community with nutritious food and are proud to feature organic, local, and fair trade products. As a community-based, member-owned, and volunteer-run organization, we go beyond being simply a grocery and cafe, providing a genuinely welcoming community that seeks to create beneficial connections between the producers and people we serve. We attribute our 16-year success to a business model that is focused on people. Because of this, we strive to provide “Food for People, Not for Profit.”


Our Mission

The primary mission of the co-op is to operate a financially-sound grocery store and café in the Riverwest neighborhood of Milwaukee, WI. Cooperative philosophy and values are an essential part of our enterprise; therefore, the co-op will operate in a fully democratic manner.

Finally, we strive to follow the Seven Cooperative Principles:

  • Voluntary and Open Membership

  • Democratic Member Control

  • Members’ Economic Participation

  • Autonomy and Independence

  • Education, Training, and Information

  • Cooperation Among Cooperatives

  • Concern for Community


In the fall of 1999...

members of the Riverwest Workers Buying Club and other community members decided to dedicate their time and resources toward building a viable neighborhood food co-op. Thanks to the generosity of two loyal members, the 1904 former Schlitz Tied House at the corner of Clarke and Fratney was purchased and rented to the Co-op. After two years of planning and fundraising, and thousands of hours of hard work, the Co-op opened its doors to the public in November 2001.
Initially the store had only a couple of shelves and a few dozen items. Our first few years were dedicated to expanding the inventory. After three years, we were successful enough to hire one full-time and one part-time employee to complement the volunteer staff.
The Riverwest Co-op Café opened in October 2004. The Café has earned a great reputation throughout the city for offering delicious vegetarian and vegan fare and has received positive reviews in the local media. The café prides itself on using the same local, organic ingredients in our food that we sell in our store.





The Riverwest Co-op is operated by the collective work of several committees alongside a board. Please visit the links below for information regarding each committee and the Co-op board:



Members are elected to the board of the Riverwest Co-op every year at the general membership meeting (GMM). Board members serve a 1 to 3 year term and are responsible for overseeing the sustainability and growth of the Co-op and its membership. You may contact the board at any time at


Manages the day to day operations of the Co-op, participates on
committees core to operations, and works with the
Board of Directors on long term planning.


The mission of the Communications Committee is to expand the business and increase awareness of the Riverwest Co-op and Café. The Committee is also responsible for Co-op events, advertising and promotions, as well as maintaining the Co-op’s website, social media, and internal communications.
The biggest strength of the Co-op is its membership and the people power of our volunteers. By using these resources, we strive to rely less on mainstream advertising and instead engage the community directly.  The Committee currently meets the fourth Wednesday of each month at 6.30pm in the Co-op office.
Fresh News is the Riverwest Co-op’s email newsletter. Each month, members get updates on Co-op and neighborhood events, store specials, and news on your fellow members and volunteers.

MembershiP committee

The membership committee is primarily responsible for maintaining the co-op's membership database.  We add new members to the database when people join, communicate with members to help keep their memberships current, and make sure all members are getting their discounts as they should.
If you have a passion for detail-oriented data entry or happen to be an Excel spreadsheet whisperer, the Membership Committee could use your help! Please contact board member Karen Reynolds at if you are interested in volunteering.


The Sustainability Committee serves as an advocate for the environment implementing best practices to reduce our carbon footprint and further integrate sustainability issues into the operation of the Co-op.
Our current projects include improving signage in store regarding packaging, plastics and straws and reducing the use of these. We also work with the local Boomerang Bag group to keep this initiative alive. New projects involve a monthly event/workshop based around local environmental issues and developing ways of becoming more of an education hub.

FINANCE committee

The Finance Committee is composed of the Board Treasurer, staff, and volunteers. Their responsibilities include:

  • Oversight of the general financial well-being of the Co-op

  • Coordination with accountant to obtain updated financial data

  • Reporting monthly to the Board of Directors on current financial data

  • Along with the Workers Collective and Board, monitoring the annual budget and progress.

  • Making recommendations to the Workers Collective and Board regarding profit, loss, and assets.


The Human Resources Committee’s responsibilities include:

  • Along with the Workers Collective, completing annual and probationary reviews.

  • Reviewing the Employee Manual and, along with the Board and Workers Collective, making revisions as needed.

  • Assisting staff and managers with any grievances and pertinent issues when appropriate.

  • Assisting with providing the initial orientation for new Workers Collective managers to the Employee Manual, duties, and expectations.


  • Oversee regular maintenance and access to supplies.

  • Inform finance committee of expected costs for upkeep.

  • Maintain inviting ambiance at the co-op.