Riverwest Filling Station: Milwaukee's first growler bar

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Sometimes, the law just doesn't work for you. Such was the case for Bryan Atinsky and his business partners, Allen and Kari Church. The trio wanted to open a restaurant and bar that offered growlers – 64-ounce sealed containers of tap beer to go – but, strangely, Brew City's laws did not permit the third party selling of growlers except in brew pubs.

The front of The Riverwest Filling Station
— Molly Snyder

The Riverwest Filling Station is a Gas

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In 2012, when Bryan Atinsky bought a foreclosed restaurant building at 701 E. Keefe Ave. in Riverwest, he had three revenue streams in mind for his new venture. He would sell food and drinks, of course. There would also be beer to-go in 64-ounce growlers. Those sales would bring in additional money, and more quickly deplete the barrels. This is crucial, since draft beer deteriorates rapidly once the kegs are tapped, and the bar had a capacity of only 80. The plan would be for him to offer 30 beers on tap, many not readily available in local liquor stores. Atinsky got his growler idea in Athens, Georgia where he once lived. There, y’all could take some beer home in a growler.

The Riverwest Filling Station taps
— Michael Horne

Riverwest Filling Station, a Neighborhood Corner Tap Offering Beer, Burgers and Israeli Bar Food

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In a town known for its corner bars, Riverwest Filling Station is reimagining the model. While it’s still a place for the residents of the Riverwest and Harambee neighborhoods (and interlopers, of course) to hang out and have a pint and some grub, it also offers up the ability to take away growlers of your favorite draft beer—perfect for when you want to have some suds at home but beer sales have concluded for the evening.

Burger with fries and a bloody marry

First Look: The Riverwest Filling Station

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Located in the former home of Albanese's at 701 E. Keefe Ave, The Riverwest Filling Station opened in late January. After overcoming the legalities of offering growlers of beer "to go", this beer bar sought to gain acclaim as a gastropub type eatery by adding a food menu to its offerings.

The Filling Station burger with mushrooms, onions and stout aioli
— Lori Fredrich

Riverwest Filling Station

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Images courtesy of the Riverwest Filling Station. It was a rainy Sunday as I was drove my male companion to Riverwest to check out the recently opened Riverwest Filling Station (701 E. Keefe Ave.). My friend was only in Milwaukee for the weekend, so I felt pressure to keep him entertained. I figured, what guy wouldn’t enjoy a growler bar? After finding street parking right next to the bar, we entered the stand-alone building, walked past a wall of coat hooks and found two seats at the semi-filled bar. In typical 20-something male fashion, within two seconds of sitting down…

The Riverwest Filling Station entrance