Charles River Food Co-op Marks Firsts, Looking for Locations for Store

Nick Quaranto, president of the Charles River Food Co-op board, updates members at the first annual meeting. (Photo by Charlie Breitrose)

The effort to open a food cooperative in the Watertown area reached some firsts recently, and progress toward opening a store is moving faster than other local co-ops. The Charles River Food Co-op was incorporated in April 2022, with a goal of opening a store primarily serving Watertown, Newton, and Waltham. On Nov. 14, the Charles River Food Co-op held its first annual meeting, and the organization recently held its first board election.

Shares Available for Charles River Co-op, Group Looking to Create New Food Buying Alternative

Since the closing of Russo’s market in September 2021, a group of people has been working to create a new option for grocery and food shoppers in the Watertown area. On June 15, the Charles River Food Co-op formally kicks off the sale of shares in the planned store. The co-op had a soft opening in early June, and has already sold more than 70 shares, said Nick Quaranto, interim board president of the Charles River Food Co-op. The money raised by the shares, which cost $200 each, will go toward planning and building a store in one of the communities on which the co-op is focusing: Watertown, Waltham, and Newton. Shareholders will also be able to participate in co-op elections and will receive discounts after the store opens.

New Food Co-op Looks to Fill Void of Russo’s Closing, Offering Shares

The following information was provided by the Charles River Co-op:

The Charles River Food Co-op is announcing that we will soon be accepting members! As a reminder, the impetus to create the Charles River Food Co-op was the closing of Russo’s in Watertown. We are excited about our mission and vision for this new store, which includes replicating Russo’s fresh produce and food diversity, in addition to a focus on sustainability and community. While we don’t have a store for you to shop in yet, buying a member-owner share now allows us to build the financial foundation we need to fuel the next stage of our growth and fund the eventual store opening. You are investing in the future of the Charles River Co-op and enabling us to take the next step to reach our vision. 

Our share price will be $200 – which can be paid up-front or over 8 months in increments of $25.

See What Developers May Do on the Former Russo’s Site

JacobsA view of the four-story life science center proposed for the former Russo’s site at 560 Pleasant St. Preliminary plans for the former Russo’s property on Pleasant Street have been submitted to the Watertown Planning Department, and include a lab/office building, retail space, a parking garage, with publicly-accessible open space in between. Saracen Properties and BentallGreenOak submitted the plans on April 7, and the group will have a developer’s conference with Planning staff about the project on the 4.82-acre property. Plans show a life science center, retail, and publicly-accessible open space. The project will have at least one community meeting before going to the Planning Board for consideration.

Ode to Russo’s and a Longtime Employee from His Two Daughters

Phil Amatangelo worked at Russo’s market for nearly 50 years. The news that Russo’s market will be closing hit many people hard, and sparked plenty of memories. None more so, perhaps, than for a pair of daughters of a man who worked at the Watertown institution for just short of half a century. Anne Korte and Susan Amatangelo shared just a handful of memories of their father Phil Amatangelo with Watertown News. The Italian immigrant settled in the Boston area and his ties to the Russo family go way back, said Anne, who lives in Watertown.

LETTER: Loss of Russo’s Hurts, But Watertown Still Has Many Gems

To the Editor:

Reports of culture’s demise in Watertown are greatly exaggerated. Is there a way for Watertown to avoid losing a gem like Russo’s, some have asked? ( The simple answer is no. There isn’t any one shop that can replace Russo’s in Watertown. That’s gone; like so many of gentrified Boston’s mainstays such as No Names, Durgin-Park, soon-to-be closed Kowloon, Circle Pizza, Jimmy’s Harborside, Anthony’s, and so many more.