By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Jul 11, 2022 at 4:34 PM

Due to declining sales, the Riverwest Co-op Grocery and Cafe, 733 E. Clarke St., announced Monday that the cafe side is now immediately closed for the foreseeable future, and if sales don’t pick up, the store itself could close, too.

“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.

“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 co-op – which focuses on natural and organic foods as well as fair trade and wellness products – has been open since 2001 in a beautiful old Schlitz tied house. The cafe opened a few years later.

Baran says sales have been slow since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic in March 2020 and have not returned to pre-pandemic levels.

The cafe side was closed for most of 2020 and 2021.

“We are putting all of our focus and energy into operating the grocery store in order to secure the future of the Co-op,” said Baran. “We are currently seeking funding to bridge the gap between where we are today and where we need to be to keep the store open.”

A  membership is not required to shop at the store, but members receive a 5 percent discount and helps to ensure the future of the member-owned store.

Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.

He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.

With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.

He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.

In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.

He has be heard on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories, in that station's most popular podcast.