Black Star Co-op Board of Director Elections

As the weather turns cooler in Austin, Member-Owners execute their right to vote for open positions on the Black Star Co-op board. The Board of Directors provide leadership and guidance that supports the Co-op’s mission, vision, and goals on behalf of the Member-Owners through personal responsibility and effective governance through well-written policies. Learn more about the candidates through their answers to the “Questions for the Candidate” section in their submitted candidacy application or by attending the Member’s Assembly on Sunday, October 27th from 12-2pm. Electronic vote casting begins October 1 and ends October 31 with in-person ballots available at the Member’s Assembly.  

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  1. Why are you interested in serving on the Board of Directors of the Co-op?

The fiscal position of Black Star dimmed suddenly in first month of my joining the Board just under three years ago (I’m sure this was correlation and not causation).  Members arrived in droves to support the Co-op.  Without their support, Black Star would not be here.  It’s time for Black Star Co-op to put members first.  I look forward to representing them on the Board.

  • What goals would you like to see Black Star Co-op achieve in the next year?  Five years?

In the short term I would like to see improved efforts to engage current members and expansive efforts to increase the number of new members. I want to attend a Member’s Assembly meeting where there are no empty seats!  In five years, I’d like all the facilities issues completely resolved.

  • What qualities and past experience do you have for serving on the Black Star Co-op Board of Directors?

I am just finishing my first term on the Board which went from fiscal crisis to stability.  I hope to apply the skills I’ve learned to another three years on the Board.

  • Name one way in which you’d like the Black Star Co-op Pub and Brewery to stand out from other local brewpubs.

Black Star Co-op already stands out from other local brewpubs.  Other breweries and brewpubs have fans; Black Star has member-owners.  Other brewpubs pay their staff the federal tipped minimum wage; Black Star pays a living wage.  Other brewpubs and breweries join and support people and organizations that promote local beer (that’s good, yes); Black Star does that AND advocates for policies ensuring a quality workplace locally and nationally.  Let’s be honest, we can drink award winning beer all over Austin, but no award winning beer tastes as righteous as Black Star’s.    

  • What is your favorite Co-operative Principle and why?

Democratic member control.  Members have a voice at Black Star.  I want to hear those voices more clearly and more often over the next three years.

James Farris

  1. Why are you interested in serving on the Board of Directors of the Co-op?

I believe strongly in the mission and vision for Black Star Co-op.  I have been a longtime patron of the Co-op and a member since 1997, when I attended my first members assembly.  I love the sense of community, both among members and staff and the way the Black Star acts on the seven co-op principles to be a positive part of the larger community.  I believe Black Star is something special in the Austin brewpub scene and would like to take a more active role in supporting and strengthening it.

  • What goals would you like to see Black Star Co-op achieve in the next year?  Five years?

I would like to see Black Star strengthen its financial position, while growing the awareness among existing and potential patrons of the unique qualities and features that set it apart within the brewpub scene in Austin.  I would like to see it continue to make strides in building a community around the co-op mission as well as high quality beer and food offerings that incorporate member input in the development and selection.

  • What qualities and past experience do you have for serving on the Black Star Co-op Board of Directors?

Passion for this place (I’m literally filling this application out while I sit at the bar).  I also have a broad set of skills and experience gained from my degrees in Math and Public Affairs and working in jobs doing data analysis, program evaluation, performance improvement, and policy development in state government. 

  • Name one way in which you’d like the Black Star Co-op Pub and Brewery to stand out from other local brewpubs.

Community and customer involvement.  I think the key ingredient in what makes Black Star special to me is the spirit of involvement and cooperation that underpin its founding and business model.  I love to tell people about the living wage paid to staff, the way the folks who work here have direct input into how things are run, how members are more than just customers – they’re owners, and how all these things come together into celebration of work, quality, integrity, and beer.

  • What is your favorite Co-operative Principle and why?

Democratic member control.  This principle, where members and staff have a stake in establishing the community and priorities is a key to what Black Star offers.  These days when you can go online and order anything from anywhere, or drop-in on snapshots of life from friends or celebrities and click to show your feels, this principle says you’re not just buying a commodity when you become a member or patronize the co-op, you’re participating in a community.  When you come to events or talk to staff you’re not emoting into the ether, you have voice in shaping this community.

Gabriel Prado

  • Why are you interested in serving on the Board of Directors of the Co-op?

As a true Austinite (born and raised), I’m very passionate about local businesses and the unique impression they leave on our beautiful, ever changing city.  The Black Star principles and symbiotic relationship with the local community are a great embodiment of what I believe Austin to be and should have more of.  I’ve been looking for an opportunity to join the board of a local business and pledge to use my time and background to further the mission and set Black Star as the shining example of the co-op model.

  • What goals would you like to see Black Star Co-op achieve in the next year?  Five years?

Short-term in the next year I’d like to see Black Star expand engagement with its local member owner community and start to execute on innovative new ideas to drive traffic and renewed interest in the Black Star mission.  In five years, I’d like to see Black Star expand its footprint with new strategic partnerships that generate value for all stakeholders and help carry the Black Star name like other well-known Austin breweries.

  • What qualities and past experience do you have for serving on the Black Star Co-op Board of Directors?

I’ve been curating a very diverse set of business skills over my career including sales, product management, pricing, and product marketing.  While those skills have been honed in the tech space, I am ready to apply the same critical thinking and strategy to a much more personal type of business.  Personally, I tend to take a lot of ownership in success and love to coach the others around me with best practices and lessons learned.

  • Name one way in which you’d like the Black Star Co-op Pub and Brewery to stand out from other local brewpubs.

I think there is a huge opportunity to make Black Star the “third place” for those who drink beer-just how coffee shops have become a third place for many.  I think this requires developing an understanding of what people need in that “third place” and what Black Star can do to facilitate and encourage it.  I see it as a third place for many, but it’s still subject to a lot of competition in the surrounding area.  Let’s understand our members and further develop that vision of the third-place.

  1. What is your favorite Co-operative Principle and why?

Democratic member control.  I believe this to be incredibly important as an exchange of diverse backgrounds and ideas that can all play on a level playing field.  I think the means to be able to have a voice is much more valuable than being able to pay more for a louder voice.  I also appreciate this principle because it isn’t always easy.  Members need to be engaged, informed, and have a personal interest in the voting outcomes-all of which are very hard to measure, making it a particularly interesting challenge!

Cast Your Vote HERE

Members’ Assembly and Voting Sunday, October 27th – Exercise Your Democratic Right!

Black Star Co-Op is not like other pubs in town. Firstly, its beer is better, but also it is a member-owned democratically run organization. This October, as a Member-Owner you have two important voting decisions to make.

  1. Election of the Board of Directors of the Co-op. These folk meet to make decisions on your behalf, they represent the Members of the Co-op, legally are accountable for the business, and hold the workers assembly to account through a series of governance policies. We have a few positions on the board up for election and some great candidates standing. You can vote either at the Members’ Assembly or online in the email that will be sent out in a similar time frame.
  2. Referendum to change one of our Bylaws. This doesn’t happen often, but some decisions are so important that we look for the Member-Owners to get involved rather than the Board making a
    decision on their behalf. This is your opportunity to have a direct say in how the Co-op operates. You can again vote either at the Members’ Assembly or in the email that will be sent out at a similar time. Details of the bylaw change are included below for you to read. Please feel free to speak to or email the board if you have questions around this or would like to discuss it at
    I look forward to seeing you on the 27th of October for a cold beer, some hot topics of conversation, and a warm reception for the new Board Member candidates. All that’s left for me to say is…

(News Team / Black Star Members – both good looking, both spend time in pubs – same thing right?)
Graham (Member Development Board Committee Chair)

Living Wage Bylaw Change Proposal

Reason for Proposed Change

The board is recommending a change to one of the Co-Op bylaws. To do this we legally require a vote from the member/owners.

The language currently used in this bylaw regards the payment of workers assembly (WA) members. We propose a change as the current language for two reasons

  1. It is restrictive in that it stipulates specific calculators that have debatable relevance to the Austin employment market.
  2. It is also financially unsustainable in its expectation that “any employee” will receive this. The spirit of the statement is good, but the reality is that it is unobtainable, and so does not encourage the Co-Op to strive towards this goal but focus efforts elsewhere.

The proposed change will give the WA flexibility in worker renumeration while increasing oversite from the board to ensure that we continue to challenge ourselves towards achieving the Co-Op principles. We believe that this change will have a positive effect on worker pay.

The Co-Op Board of directors, and the WA, recommend that members vote to accept this change.

Changes in detail

  1. Change in the bylaw to allow the WA to propose the most appropriate living wage calculator
  2. Change to the language of the bylaw to remove the “any employee” language
  3. Addition to board D.3 policy for all voting body WA members are paid a living wage (there is a tenure and commitment requirement to become a WA voting body member – so this will likely exclude transitional staff)
  4. Addition to board D.3 policy for over 60% of staff receive a living wage (and by proxy – become voting members of the WA). This promotes the spirit of “we pay a living wage” and encourages tenure and commitment from the WA. Hitting 60% will be aspirational in the near future, but we believe this is an obtainable goal in the Austin market and so encourages us all to strive for policy compliance rather than give up as lost.
  5. Addition to board D.3 policy for oversite from the board on the living wage calculator chosen to ensure fair remuneration for years to come.
  6. Please note other elements of the existing D3 policy regarding discrimination, salary ratios and gratuity have not been changed.

Exact wording for your study

Old Language

Living Wage Bylaw:

When financially able, the Co-op shall pay no less than a living wage (determined by the formula of the Universal Living Wage Campaign) to any of its employees.

D.3 Policy:

  • D.3.0 With respect to employment, compensation, and benefits to employees, consultants, contract workers, and volunteers. The Workers’ Assembly shall not cause or allow jeopardy to financial integrity or public image, or discrimination based on race, sex, age, creed, marital status, religion, sexual orientation, national origin, color or disability.
  • D.3.1 The Workers’ Assembly will not allow disparity between the remuneration of any two workers to exceed a ratio of 4:1.
  • D.3.2 The Workers’ Assembly will not accept gratuities to supplement wages paid by the Co-op.

Proposed New Language

Living Wage Bylaw:

When financially able the Co-op shall pay an objectively calculated living wage determined by the formula of an appropriate living wage calculator recommended by the workers assembly

D.3 Policy:

  • D.3.0 With respect to employment, compensation, and benefits to employees, consultants, contract workers, and volunteers. The Workers’ Assembly shall not cause or allow jeopardy to financial integrity or public image, or discrimination based on race, sex, age, creed, marital status, religion, sexual orientation, national origin, color or disability.
  • D.3.1 The Workers’ Assembly will not allow disparity between the remuneration of any two workers to exceed a ratio of 4:1.
  • D.3.2 The Workers’ Assembly will not accept gratuities to supplement wages paid by the Co-op.
  • D.3.3 The Co-Op shall not pay less than a sustainable living wage to all WA members who are members of the voting body.
  • D.3.4 The Co-op will not pay less than a sustainable living wage to more than 40% of the workers assembly.
  • D.3.5 The WA will not go more than 12 months without getting agreement from the board on the living wage calculator that is used.


Many things have built this city – education, government, beer, oil, e-commerce, technology and, of course, music. We all know the old trope of how artists & musicians pave the way for change in communities & cities and Austin is no exception. Having declared itself the Live Music Capital of the World, Austin has a vital tie to its creative community. Growing costs of living affect everyone and this is where organizations like the Health Alliance of Austin Musicians (HAAM) comes in. HAAM has been striving to elevate the well-being & quality of life of musicians since 2005 by providing access to affordable health care for Austin musicians. Many have attested to HAAM being a life-saving force in the face of increased medical costs; its services and partnerships continually put up the first, last, & sometimes only wall of defense against catastrophic illness, benign neglect brought on by limited finances, and other needs in-between.
Eat, drink, and be merry with us and the Health Alliance of Austin Musicians as we celebrate HAAM Day with Tyler Stuckey and his band. Forget that contemporary Nashville sound and come check out real deal working-class Austin outlaw country: traditional with an updated sense of humor, Tyler Stuckey hits all the notes you expect from a bonafide country music performer with rowdy numbers and soulful tearjerkers. Please join us from 7pm-9pm for a family-friendly evening with board games, corn hole, food & drink for all. We will be donating a portion of the day’s sales to HAAM, so drink up!

Extravaganza, Extravaganza, Extravaganza! Tuesday, September 10th

Tuesday, 10th of September. To most people, this is just another day. To some people, it’s a sign that we are slowly, but successfully making it through the work week. But for Black Star Co-op Member-Owners, let it be a day of FUN, FRIENDSHIP, BEER, FREE APPETIZERS, and FUN (again).

Yes, you guessed it! Mark September 10th in your calendar as the next Black Star Members Extravaganza! Shrug off the week’s woes and join us at the brewpub for a pint or two with your fellow Members, Workers, and Board Members. Share ideas about the pub (past and future), reunite with tenured cooperators, and meet new faces too.

While you are with us, ask about the upcoming Board elections later this year, as well as the other work of the board and the Workers Assembly in developing the pub to serve you better and bring more value to your community. We might surprise you that Black Star can offer you and your family more than you thought…

Can’t wait to share a beer with you!  Cheers in advance!

Making a Successful Retreat out of a Sunday

What does Sunday mean to you? If you are thinking Black Star Co-op Strategy and planning (and cold beer) then maybe, just maybe, you share a mental link with the Black Star Board Members! For this select group of people that you elected to the board, this past Sunday was a 2019 highlight, as it was the biannual Black Star Board retreat!

Two main goals were established for the day. The first, educational: focusing on the financial and legal responsibilities we have to both the Co-op and to the state of Texas. The second, strategic: laying out committee strategy for the year to come.

The committee strategy discussion was most noteworthy as per its direct influence on members. Three board committees were proposed. The first is charged with financial scrutiny of the Co-op, along with drawing up legal financial statements. The second concerned board proficiency, training, and elections. The third is focused on member development, engagement, and benefits. One key decision made was that the Board and its constituent committees will hold themselves to a higher level of accountability with more defined goals, objectives, and actions.

So, here is the bit when I stop writing about what we did, and ask for your involvement….  The first ask I have is the easiest.

·           –   Next time you are attending a member event or see one of us at the pub, please ask us about our role, the committee work we do, and what we are trying to achieve. Most importantly, hold us to giving you a detailed answer; it’s your brewpub and we are here to represent you!

·           –   If the finances of the Co-op, the member activities and events, or other work on the board interest you, why not get involved? Committees are open to all Member-Owners, not just Board Members. Whether you have just a little time or more to give, this is your pub and you have a say in how it runs. We would be happy to see you get involved!

I look forward to talking to you soon, and can’t wait to hear your questions as you hold me accountable to what I have signed up for in our plans for 2020!

Many thanks,

Member Development Committee Chair

Well Shot

Late last month we surprisingly released a pretty cool beer called Well Shot. This beer went under the radar and we felt obliged to give a quick spiel about why we think this beer deserves some hype. Well Shot was created on a whim to try to produce the beer equivalent of a shot at a bar. We started by building a base wheat wine recipe that was packed with Blacklands Malt Red Winter Wheat and then boiled extensively to impart some slight caramelization flavors on the wort. The base was then fermented with high gravity/high alcohol tolerant yeast to yield a 12% ABV beer that was then moved into the Stranahan’s Whiskey barrels, previously housed by Moebius (our imperial stout). 
Months passed after filling the barrels. We tasted the progress, and… it was pretty lame. Although the first round of beer aged in these had less character than we expected, we did not imagine we would get nothing from a second aging. Well, the barrels were already full and we did not need to free up the space, so we decided to just sit on them for a while and see what happens.
Months go by again. Another sample was taken, and… it was dope! All of the caramel and wheat from the base beer melded with the char and vanilla from the oak barrels and created a beautifully whiskey like beer that hit on the notes that we were originally trying to capture when this project was conceived. 
Aged for 7 months in whiskey barrels and served still (no carbonation), Well Shot is pretty damn close to what we intended it to be. We will be serving this beer in 5 oz tasters for $4/each to emulate the feel of a shot of whiskey. Because of the high alcohol content, 5 ounces of this beer contains almost the same amount of alcohol as there is in an actual shot of whiskey. I recommend letting this beer warm slightly as the nuance of the barrel really starts to come out at higher temperatures. 
Weather you sip it or shoot it, I hope you get a chance to try Well Shot before it is gone!

Black Star Co-op Elections: Call for Candidates!

Every Fall, Black Star Co-op Member-Owners vote for Board of Director positions.  Directors review and craft policies and principles, represent the interests of all Member-Owners, and collaborate with the Workersʼ Assembly.  Take your love of Black Star Co-op to the next level by running for the Board.  To run for the Board, you must:

  • Be a fully invested Member-Owner;
  • Attend at least one Black Star Board Meeting within the last year;
  • Attend a Candidate Orientation Session at Black Star (roughly a 15-30 minute conversation)
  • Submit your Declaration of Candidacy form.
    • Download the Election Packet here. It contains information about the election, important dates, candidate questions for the website, and the Declaration of Candidacy form.  All forms must be submitted no later than September 27th, 2019 by 11:59pm

Interested, but have questions before you decide to run? Ready to run, but want more information about how to start the process?  Your first step is contacting the Leadership Development Committee through email:

Members’ Assembly Meeting Updates

Member-Owners & Friends of Black Star Co-op,

Although member-owner turnout has been on the decline the past few years, we were excited to host a more interactive and tasty meeting during our Spring MA. We released a draft of our 2018 Annual Report, and in finalizing the draft, we have made a few adjustments. The final version of the 2018 Annual Report will be presented at our Fall Members’ Assembly Meeting (hopefully to a larger turnout!), and will be available to share upon request. We are currently in the planning stages of the next meeting, and if we can’t get you here with the threat of free beer and food, then we’re sure nothing will. We look forward to another fun meeting come Fall!

Summer Menu

This past Monday (July 1st), we were excited to release our newest menu changes for the summer months. Our new Kitchen Team Leader, Damien Lawrence, wanted to focus on a fresh, light menu for the hottest part of the year. For the first time in Black Star’s history we will be consolidating the lunch and dinner menu into one static menu that will be available all day long, so you won’t miss out on any of the dishes no matter what time you come in. A few highlights for this menu change are:

– Catch of the Day: a rotating seared fish dish with seasonal vegetables and basmati rice

– Fried Avocado Tacos: two beer battered avocados, dressed arugula, pickled red onion, corn tortillas

– Wings are on the menu! Both fried chicken and vegan wings tossed in house buffalo sauce, with a rotating selection of additional sauces.

– Fried Cheese Curds, Bangers and Mash, and Shrimp and Grits are gone 🙁

  • The Impossible Burger has switched to The Beyond Burger due to ongoing availability issues. We will do our best to get the Impossible whenever we can, but we are (as we know many of you are) pretty disappointed about this shortage.

We will still have a separate Brunch Menu Saturday and Sunday. Changes include:

– Chicken and Waffles is now Chicken and Grits

– Quiche with Seasonal Vegetables and Cheese

– Avocado Toast now on the brunch menu! This item will be super modifiable/customizable.

 – Quarter English and Tri-tip and Eggs both gone 🙁

We hope everyone enjoys this new menu as much as we do. We look forward to your feedback, and we’ll see you at the pub soon!

Welcome, Damian! Our Fearless New Kitchen Team Leader

We are beyond excited to announce our new Kitchen Team Leader, Damian Lawrence. Although Damian has been with Black Star for over a year now, he has recently stepped into a leadership role to much acclaim from patrons and co-workers alike.

Born and raised in the Carolinas, Chef Damian has an 18 year long history in the service industry. From fine dining to food truck experience, his culinary journey has led to a strong focus on seafood, developing amazing vegan recipes, all while adding little bit of sweet and spice to all of his dishes. His past 8 years in Austin has inspired a strong love for Texas style cooking, while the local community has allowed for many collaborations with chefs and friends alike.

Buy a beer shot and raise a glass to this guy the next time you see him through the window!