2017 Annual General Meeting May 21 – Run for the Board of Directors

ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING MAY 21 at 3pm. Members Only. Vote for our future.

The Riverwest Public House isn’t just a bar. You know this when you get that feeling. The one that comes when you bump into friends and neighbors over a pint. The feeling after an incredible show, or a Night School, a book club, a political art show or a dance party. It is that feeling that we aren’t just hoping for community but that we’re actually building it. We know our neighborhood, our city, our world is a better place every time we raise a glass.

This is why many of us have joined as members. We get sick of politicos dictating what is good “for the people” and disillusioned with the idealists who never get around to doing something. We aren’t waiting for someone else to act, but we are seizing control of our economic and communal destiny. As they say around the block, “You’re doing it!”

But maybe that overwhelming good vibe comes with a little tugging. Maybe you walk out of the pub and think, “It is awesome, but it could be so much better.” Maybe you’re checking the calendar for this weekend shows and say “I want to do more with the Public House.”

Maybe you’re ready to move from the barstool to the boardroom.

OK, so we don’t really have a boardroom, just the long table in front. But still. We’re taking nominations for the upcoming Board of Director elections. We need organizers and activists, dreamers and realists, folks that are good with nuts and bolts and folks that see the big picture. We need finance folks and HR people. We need neighbors and friends. We need the community to lift up leaders and leaders to direct the co-op, especially at this time of growth and change for our organization.

Our board has a few practical functions. We govern by policy and decide by consensus. That means we will look at what are the best practices for this cocktail community we’re creating. We give structural support to our workers collective. We carry the banner of co-ops and tell the story of the Public House locally and nationally.  We’re a working board, with each director serving on a committee.  The board currently meets twice monthly and the schedule will be restructured with the new Board. There are three open seats each with a three year term.

While any enthusiastic organized self-motivator who is a lover of the co-op should run, we are specifically looking for people with experience in HR, Marketing, business management, and of course who couldn’t use a lawyer?

So, if you love building community one drink at a time, come help design the blueprints for that building. Join the board. Email info@riverwestpublichouse.org for more information. Our Annual General Meeting, where board elections take place, will occur on Sunday, May 21. Please fill out the google form board application or you can pick up an analog application from any bartender. All submissions are due by May 7, 2017.


Riverwest Public House Board of Directors

Special Membership Meeting Thursday, March 9

For the first time, the Public House’s Board of Directors is calling a special member meeting.

The meeting will take place on Thursday, March 9 beginning at 6 p.m. at the Public House.

An email was sent on January 6 to notify membership of our ongoing financial problems and request members attend a discussion which occurred on January 12. Members who attended this offered many valuable suggestions and ideas. The WC and BoD are committed to keeping the Public House open but we need the members to decide how that will happen.

The purpose of this meeting is for members to vote on our various options to move forward, which include:

  • Members making direct loans to the Public House (for which we have precedent and a formula as we took direct member loans when we first opened)

  • Members making direct monetary gifts to the Public House

  • Members offering collateral to back the Public House obtaining a line of credit from a bank

  • Closing the Public House



The Board of Directors has called this special meeting as a result of persistent losses that pose an existential threat to the Public House. While we have never taken out any commercial loans, we have also only posted a profit as a business one year out of our 6 years open. Persistent losses have compounded and resulted in crisis. Attempts to reconfigure our management structure and some of our practices have proven fruitless thus far.

One root of the problem is our income: we need more people to drink here more often. And we need a cash infusion in order to stay open while we implement further changes to the way we operate. In the near-term, we will be seeking a small direct personal loan of $3,000 to make improvements and aesthetic changes to the inside of the space. It is our feeling that renewing interest in the bar is contingent on making the physical space more appealing. We have also increased the number of free events and are making changes to our internal policies to continue to cut expenses and improve service quality.

However, these improvements won’t take place if we can’t stay open long enough to make them. We hope that the membership drive coupled with requests for extra support from you will make the difference.

On the positive side, we posted a profit for the first time in months: $714.92 for the month of January. This is largely due to our manager and workers tightening up and reducing expenses as much as possible. But we’re also putting off paying bills and getting necessary repairs done.

How can I help?

We currently have:

  • 173 lifetime members ($200 fully paid in)
  • 184 active/renewing members (between $40 and $160 paid in and current on their membership)
  • 704 expired/non-renewing members (between $40 and $160 paid in but membership lapsed)


Our specific request:

  • Lifetime Members: Would you consider giving the Public House the value of another Lifetime Membership ($200)?

  • Members: Would you consider buying up to your Lifetime Membership ($40 – $160)? If you’re not sure how much you have left, we can look it up for you.

  • Non-members and lapsed members. We get it, not everyone feels like they can swing $40 a year. We ask that if you want to help, that you gift us any amount. Even $10 – $20 makes a huge difference.


We sincerely appreciate any help you give between now and the special member meeting. Please join us on Thursday, March 9 beginning at 6 p.m. at the Public House as we carve out a path forward together.


In Solidarity,


RWPH Board of Directors

Riverwest Public House Financial Update

Members and supporters,

We want to share this financial update with you. We’ve had a pretty stable year on the revenue side, as you can see below. We’ve done what we can to keep our expenses as low as possible while treating our staff, members, and customers fairly. But some unavoidable expenses emerged in 2016 that have put us in a precarious situation. And we’re concerned about the bar.


(click to enlarge)

Bottom line is, we need to see more of you. We’ve been in the neighborhood for 5 strong years. We want to be open for another one. After seeing other businesses come and go without much communication about their situation, we want to be upfront with you about the Public House’s status: the one-two punch of a sales slump and unforeseen expenses has put us in a precarious place.

Luckily, we’ve got the Riverwest community behind us, and we know you’ll show up to keep this place alive. We’ve been a community institution and radical space since we opened, and we need spaces like these now more than ever. If you value this institution as much as we hope you do, bring your energy here. Events drive revenue. We’ve got about 1,000 people on this list, and we need you all to spend some time with us, bring your network here, build your movement here.

Set up a meeting or a party or an event. Our space is free to use, unlike most bars and meeting spaces. Throw a fundraiser for your institution or organization. We’ll help.

Stop by one more time than usual this month, and bring a buddy. If you’ve lapsed, renew your membership. We’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: the first 4-5 years of operation brought regular member renewals. This equity allowed us to open and to operate free of debt. Now, the true believers among our membership have renewed up to their full $200 to become lifetime members. But we still need new equity. Bring in a friend. Evangelize for the bar you own.

We’ll be having a meeting open to anyone to discuss the bar’s health this Thursday, 1/12 at 5pm. Bring a friend.

Last, to make it as easy as possible to spread the word, here’s a sample email to spread to your networks:

Hi there,

As a member/supporter of the Riverwest Public House Cooperative, I wanted to take a moment to encourage you to bring your organization’s fundraisers, meetings, celebrations, or happy hour meet-ups to the Public House (815 E. Locust). The Public House is Milwaukee’s bar with a mission: it’s cooperatively owned, and it exists as a free meeting space for any organization that wishes to use it. To get started planning your party, fundraiser, or meeting, please email events@riverwestpublichouse.org.



Thank you for your support over the last 5 years as we’ve built community, one drink at a time. See you at the Public House.


Riverwest Public House Board of Directors

Interested in running for our Board of Directors? (Application deadline May 7!)

We’d love to have you! The board of directors is responsible for the financial health of the bar and the long term vision of the establishment. We have 4 open board seats this year, which means a lot can change. In terms of time commitment, it’s about 3-5 hours per month of meetings, plus emails and side tasks. Each board member chairs a committee as well. A standard board term is three years. To apply, fill out the form on this page: https://riverwestpublichouse.wordpress.com/annual-general-meeting/

We’re hiring! — Membership Coordinator

Riverwest Public House Cooperative photois seeking a new Membership Coordinator to join ourWorkers Collective. The mission of the Riverwest Public House Cooperative is three-fold: to provide a welcoming social meeting place, to provide patrons with a variety of affordable local, organic and/or delicious beers, ciders and spirits, and to raise funds to propagate other cooperatives through the Riverwest Cooperative Alliance. We are a 950+ member-owned and -operated cooperative bar in Milwaukee, WI. Our unique collective structure enables us to accomplish unified goals and make decisions on a consensus-seeking basis to better serve our community. We are interested in applicants who have previous experience managing large numbers of individuals, particularly coordinating people in a volunteer organization and/or working within a cooperative model.

As our membership numbers increase we are looking for our new Membership Coordinator to continue to develop and refine methods and practices for our entire member program: including our tracking systems and informational databases. We are looking for someone with an understanding of member-run &/or cooperative organizations, who both values and is able to engage members in leadership and democratic participation. Part of this job is interacting with people; only candidates with exceptional communication and interpersonal skills who meet the criteria outlined below need apply.

Time Commitment:

This is a very part-time position, 10 hours per month (negotiable). The position has flexible hours but requires the majority of the work to be completed on the 1st of every month.  

Check out the whole position description and find out how to apply HERE. 

The Public House is Hiring Bartenders

The Public House is looking to make a new addition to our Workers Collective. We need someone who has space in their heart for this place and is enthusiastic about working in a collective management setting. If you’re looking to be part of something bigger, and make this bar and community space the best it can possibly be, you might be perfect for the job. Check out the job posting below, and stop in to grab an application.

RWPH now hiring


We’re Hiring!

Have you ever wanted to work at the Public House?

We are currently looking to hire a part-time bartender. We have a very small staff, so there is an opportunity to fill in shifts when co-workers request time off and there are opportunities to work as a secondary bartender on busier nights. This could lead to more shifts in the future depending on our scheduling needs.

RWPH Job Announcement (click here to download PDF)

The Riverwest Public House is a community owned and supported bar and public space. We are cooperatively managed by a Collective of Workers and do not discriminate in our hiring for any reason. We are an at-will employer.

Annual General Meeting: May 31 from 5-8pm

We’re about to have our Fifth Annual General Meeting (AGM)! It’s coming up quickly: May 31st from 5-8pm at the Public House. This is the time every year when we reflect on how the Public House is measuring up to its threefold mission: to be a community gathering place; to serve local, organic, and tasty drinks, and to help build the cooperative movement in our neighborhood alongside the Riverwest Cooperative Alliance.

At the last couple of AGMs, we’ve encouraged your participation and voice by putting up great big sheets of paper on the walls, giving you some nice-smelling Sharpie markers, and letting you go to town. This year will be no different. The “writing on the wall” gets reviewed by the board in the months following the AGM and the Board takes these messages into account. It’s a great way to give feedback to the Public House as a valued member-owner. Although we’re always here to listen if you’ve got a compliment, comment or concern.

It’s also a potluck. A very special potluck, indeed. Bring your favorite dish to share with your favorite co-op bar. You know what’s always great? When everybody only brings chips. Nope that’s awful, so don’t. Don’t just bring chips. If you bring chips, you have to bring something else too. Or whatever. You can bring what you want. Nobody’s going to judge you. Unless you only bring chips.

We’re also gonna raffle off some cool goodies like pint glasses and t-shirts and stuff to people. So bring your rafflin’ face.

Most importantly, this date marks the time each year when our members get to elect new members to the Board of Directors. The board of directors is the 9-person body that helps guide the course of the bar through long-term visioning, financial oversight, and governance. This year we have 5 vacancies! For those who don’t want to math, that’s the majority of our Board. Think you’ve got what it takes? We could use some help in the following:

● business management
● finance and bookkeeping
● human resources
● community outreach or organizing
● project management
● administration

To fill out an application to be on our Board of Directors, please click here. You can email your form to board@riverwestpublichouse.org or simply drop it off at the bar.

AGM Season-cooperation-makes-happen-01

Help Stop Mining in the Penokees

Action Alert from the Bad River Tribe:

Send Letters of Support to be delivered to the EPA 

Led by Bad River, six Ojibwe bands have sent a letter to the EPA asking them to undertake a 404c process, which would allow them to pre-emptively stop the mine because of the importance of the resources that it threatens.  They need your help.  This a very simple “ask” but possibly the single, most important thing you can do this summer toward stopping the mine.


To get your EPA letter of support, go to www.protectpenokeehills.org and print the letter. Please date, sign and add a brief statement, based on your own experience that tells how you/your family/your business will be affected by mining discharge.  Print your name and address, too.


Or better yet, write a brief letter to Dr. Hedman, EPA Region 5, in your own words.


The entire stack of completed letters will be presented to the EPA when the tribes meet with them on August 21, 2014, so send your letter to the Bad River Tribe by August 15th.


Either e-mail your letter to: CommDir@badriver-nsn.gov

Or, mail a hard copy to Mark Anthony Rolo, Bad River Legal Department, 

PO Box 39, Odanah, Wi 54861


• I am a supporter of the Bad River Tribe, living in Milwaukee. My family has lived/conducted spiritual practices/farmed/harvested wild rice/hunted/fished/hiked in the Bad River Watershed area for ____ generations.

• I live in southeast Wisconsin and fish/hunt/vacation/hike/bike/bird-watch/kayak, canoe…in the area drained by the Bad River watershed…

• Mining waste discharge from GTAc’s proposed taconite mine in the Penokee Hills will disperse known harmful contaminants throughout the water-rich environment of the Bad River Watershed, from the Bad River’s headwaters in the Penokee Range to its endpoints throughout the western Lake Superior Basin, thereby adversely affecting /the health and well-being of our human, plant and animal communities for years to come/ my community’s drinking water/the plants and animals I depend/ the vitality of our fish and other aquatic species/clean water jobs/our wild and unspoiled natural recreational areas/…

• The 2013 Wisconsin Mining Law was written by the mining industry to circumvent the water protections of Wisconsin’s Mining Moratorium Law (1998) and other DNR regulations. The new law requires the DNR to grant exemptions to taconite mining on water pollution standards, filling wetlands, and drawing down the watertable/wells in the area of the mine. No ecologically-sound remediation for mining-damaged waterways or wetlands exists in Wisconsin because of this law…


Don’t let this happen.


We Turn 3 Years Old on Monday!

To our beloved member-owners,

Thank you for being a member of the Public House! We appreciate your support, and hope that you have enjoyed the many benefits of membership in the Public House over the past three years. Your support as a member and patron has been invaluable as we work toward establishing the Public House as a thriving community space.

As our three-year anniversary is rapidly approaching, this is a reminder that if you joined as an annual member anytime between our Grand Opening in 2011 and now, the time has likely come to renew your annual membership. Don’t let your membership expire – and your member discounts along with it!

As you know, members enjoy a variety of discounts anytime we are open, including a dollar off most taps, $3 rail drinks, $1 off of wine, $1 off of Great Lakes Distillery products, and $1 off coffee and tea.

You can renew at any time, so beat the rush and renew today! Or become a lifetime member, and you will never need to remember to renew again.

Please join us for our Anniversary Party on March 17. The Squeezettes will be playing and all sorts of other strange things are likely to happen…this is a party not to be missed!

Thanks for your support!
Your Riverwest Public House Cooperative