Night School – RCA Explores Co-op Finances

Hello All Cooperative Peoples!

The Riverwest Cooperative Alliance in cooperation with the Riverwest Public House invite you to a March Night School.

Join us for a financial excursion into the books of the Riverwest Public House.
An introduction to the profit and loss statements of a business by looking at and discussing pre-prepared statements and then collectively navigating the program (quickbooks) commonly used to generate live reports and discuss.

Join Tracey, Don, and Peyton to learn some basics about the statements and software used by business and how we can then analyze the information and create reports to better understand operations and make decisions.

Board members, workers, members of area cooperatives, this is for you!

Interested in starting a co-op or becoming more involved with other co-ops, get a little taste of the financial aspect!

Sunday, March 5th at the Riverwest Public House 6-8pm!

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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

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March Calendar


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Here’s what’s happening in February!



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The Snatch Back! Tomorrow


All female bill traveling through your city on the way to the Million Women March in DC!
8pm | 21+ | $5 suggested donation

The Milwaukee stop of our 7 city tour, the purpose of which is to promote gender equality and empower women along the way.

The final stop of the tour >> The Million Women March in Washington DC >> Where we will protest our newest reptilian overlord through the power of song

Make the movement move.

With performances by

Kat Fox // (
Aurora Baer // (
Angie Citlali // (
Jayso Creative // (
DJ NOLA bumbing funky jams all night!

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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



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

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