category Membership

Board of Directors Election Results

Many thanks to all of our Member-Owners who voted in the Fall 2020 Co-Op election. We had a significant voter turnout, and the results are in. The Black Star Board of Directors welcomes two returning board members and one new board member. The BOD members will be officially named to the board in the December 2020 meeting and their terms begin January 1, 2021.

Returning: John Warren
John has 20+ years of business & technology management experience, and he is also an
extremely consistent Member-Owner; he can be found at the Co-Op most Wednesday evenings. John finished his first term on the Black Star Board of Directors and looks forward to supporting
the Co-Op in the years to come. He would like to focus on Co-Op survival and growth, in a post
COVID-19 world.

Returning: Dacia Schoolfield
Dacia has 20+ experience in Quality Control Management; she has also moonlighted as a
Culinary & Pastry Arts Student. Dacia finished her first term on the BOD, and is excited to
continue supporting the Workers’ Assembly, as well as her fellow board members. She will
focus on effective communication between the WA and the BOD, as well as supporting the team
in pursuing grants and available funding sources.

New: Brian Crum
Brian and his family relocated to the Austin area in 2012. Black Star was his first local brewpub
in the Austin area, and remains his favorite to this day. An engineer by degree, he has worked in
aerospace, automotive and now urban mobility. He has travelled extensively in Europe and Asia
and enjoys meeting new people and experiencing different cultures. He has many lifelong
friendships that started with six simple words, “Can I buy you a beer?”

If you would like more information regarding the Black Star Board of Directors, please check out the
BOD page. As always, if you have questions for the board, please send an email to board@blackstar.coop.
Thank you for being a Member-Owner and thank you for being involved in the Black Star Co-op. As we
approach the holiday season, don’t forget that Black Star merch always makes for a good gift, as do gift
cards, crowlers, and growlers.
See you at the pub.
Prost!

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Onward & Upwards: A Reflection

This. Has. Been. A. Year.

Who would have thought right at the beginning of January 2020 that in the year to come we’d face a
global pandemic, a crazy presidential election, the loss of Alex Trebek, and the loss of Sean Connery – all
in the same year. I, like many of you, am looking forward to putting 2020 in the rearview mirror. Regardless, we enter that time of year where reflection, compassion, and the thirst for progress ushers
us into 2021. I reflect on what’s important, significant, and what brings me happiness: family, friends,
friendly faces at Black Star Co-Op, and a freshly poured pint of Vulcan on the patio.
Due to the heroic efforts of the Workers’ Assembly, and through the dedication of our amazing
Member-Owners, Black Star Co-Op not only celebrated a ten-year anniversary this year, but the pub
remains open, operational, and ready to offer up inspired craft beer with a side of amazing food.
We are all fortunate to have Black Star in our lives – to support an institution that celebrates the worker,
is democratically controlled, provides meaningful and exceptional services, while also building a true
sense of Gemütlichkeit.
So take a moment to reflect on the year you’ve had, the year we’ve all had. And come on down to the
Co-op for a cold beer and some good food. Celebrate the inevitable end of 2020, and more importantly,
celebrate the year to come. I propose a toast to honor Black Star, the Workers’ Assembly, and the
Member-Owners. Together, we will prevail.
I look forward to seeing you at the pub.
Prost!

Getting Back to a Fair Living Wage

As most of our Member-Owners know, Black Star Co-op has a long, proud history of advocating for workers’ rights, supporting a democratic model, and paying an equitable, fair living wage to all of our workers. Yet, the past few years have presented unprecedented challenges, and our ability to pay a legitimate living wage to our workers has been inhibited by our efforts to remain in business.

The current climate of the restaurant industry as a whole has pivoted drastically over these past 8 months. Many of our local competitors have closed shop. Restaurants workers throughout the country have experienced terminations, unemployment, and longterm uncertainty. While Black Star has been able to retain many workers who have elected to continue working through the pandemic, our inability to guarantee that all workers take home a fair living wage has become unacceptable. 

It should come as no surprise that the cost of living in our city has continued to increase at a pace that Black Star has been unable to match. In an effort to take corrective action and provide ourselves with what the City of Austin defines as a fair living wage, the Workers’ Assembly at Black Star Co-op has voted to implement a 5% service charge to all checks, beginning on December 1st. While we feel that this change will have a very low impact on guest experience, the small increase in revenue will have a dramatically positive impact to workers. Funds collected from the service charge will be collected and distributed directly to all non-managerial front and back of house workers, once again guaranteeing a living wage to our entire Workers’ Assembly.

To be clear, Black Star will continue to be a ‘no tipping’ establishment. We will not rely on the generosity of our guests to supplement wages, but, we believe that this small service charge will have an amazingly favorable impact on business overall. Hiring and employee retention will immediately improve, allowing for more consistency. Workplace morale will quickly be boosted. Workers will now be incentivized to increase sales while continuing to provide exceptional customer service. We look forward to the comprehensive improvements expected from this change. 

The voice of our membership has repeatedly listed worker treatment and fair wages as one of our top values, and we now ask you to prove allegiance to your virtue. As the pandemic continues to ravage our country and economy, the Black Star community can proudly say that we have been able to pivot in a direction that allows our business and workers to thrive, even under the most difficult of circumstances. We would like to thank our Member-Owners in advance for your ongoing support of Black Star, and your dedication to living wages and fair worker treatment. We simply would not exist without you.  

Fall Members’ Assembly Meeting

Come one, come all, join us this Fall for a virtual Member-Owners meeting!  

During these crazy, pandemic times, we are moving the Member-Owners meeting to an online platform.  We encourage all M/Os to join us this Sunday, November 15th at 10am; please RSVP here.

We’ll have an action-packed agenda to cover with everyone.  Well, maybe not quite as exciting as JCVD’s latest flick, but still chock-full of data, anecdotes, the occasional laugh, and fun surprises.

After the virtual meeting, plan to head to the pub for a socially distant, outdoor pint with members from the Board of Directors, as well as with our esteemed members of the Workers’ Assembly. 

In the meantime, stay safe, healthy, and drink good beer. 

Candidate Questions and Answers

[Candidates appear in alphabetic order]

Brian Crum

Why are you interested in serving on the Board of Directors of the Co-op?
When I first moved to Austin, Black Star was one of the first local brewery’s I visited. Over the years, it remains one of my favorites – good food, great beer! Being a co-op makes it even more unique. When it became apparent that many Austin restaurants and bars were not going to survive COVID-19, I made a list of those that I would really miss and a commitment to support them. Black Star was on that list. Becoming a Director is part of that commitment to do everything I can to help ensure it not only survives
but thrives.

What goals would you like to see Black Star Co-op achieve in the next year? Five years? My 1-year goal would be to ensure BSCO navigates the rapidly changing business environment while staying true to its Co-op principles. This means we are nimble and flexible and able to adapt quickly as needed. Over a 5-year period, in addition to a thriving business, I would like to see every customer who visits BSCO want to become a Member-Owner. Be more than a customer. The Co-op has created an environment and such a unique selling proposition that anyone who loves the beer and food can’t help but want to be part of it.


What qualities and past experience do you have for serving on the Black Star Co-op Board of Directors?
In my professional life, I have attended board meetings as a member of management and company officer for the past 8 years. I am well versed in financial and operational disciplines as well as the fiduciary duties that would be required of a member of Black Star Co-op Board of Directors. I am also familiar with the Co-op principles as we were part of a co-op school when my children were younger. I did some homebrewing when I was in college. My beer was pretty bad so that only reinforced that I am
a better beer drinker than brewer. Name one way in which you’d like the Black Star Co-op Pub and Brewery to stand out from other local brewpubs.
To quote a line from the TV show Cheers. “You wanna be where everybody knows your name”. Every brewpub has its own vibe. Based on location (i.e. not in an industrial park), I think Black Star can be the neighborhood pub that others cannot. It has the right location and right size (not too big, not too small) to be the place you stop by with friends after work for a beer and a delicious bite to eat.
What is your favorite Co-operative Principle and why?
The 7 th Principal: Concern for Community is my favorite principle. Sustainable development and sustainable resources are important principles in today’s world. The fact that the co-op embraced this concept years before it came to the forefront of popular conversation says something about our core beliefs. Creating and now operating a business that will contribute to the community for years to come by being mindful of our resources and the impact to future generations is inspiring.

Dacia Schoolfield

Why are you interested in serving on the Board of Directors of the Co-op?
The opportunity to serve on the Black Star BODs is a unique, interesting, and challenging experience. Over the past three years, I’ve learned a great deal about how the co-op runs, measures its performance, gauges success, and improves organizational output. I’ve also learned about policy
governance and democratic worker control. Most importantly though, I’ve forged relationships with the Workers’ Assembly and want to continue to foster an environment where communication, trust, and diligent efforts are rewarded. I am personally committed to the Black Star Co-Op, the Black Star team, and have a legitimate stake in seeing Black Star succeed.


What goals would you like to see Black Star Co-op achieve in the next year? Five years?
I’d like to see Black Star in a financially stable position, while still supporting the basic tenets that make Black Star unique: paying livable wages, locally sourcing, commitment to the community at large, etc. I’d
like to see an expanded marketing presence, establishing Black Star as the cornerstone neighborhood brew pub.


What qualities and past experience do you have for serving on the Black Star Co-op Board of Directors?
With twenty years of manufacturing experience, fifteen of which spent in quality management and team building roles, I’ve developed both personally and professionally. This development includes: a strong but gentle voice, a passion for processes, enthusiasm for the worker, and a commitment to contribute my personal best. I’ve learned patience, communication, empathy and drive. I’ve been able to draw upon my professional experience during my time on the Black Star board (2017 – 2020), and I look forward to continuing my service.


Name one way in which you’d like the Black Star Co-op Pub and Brewery to stand out from other local brewpubs.
To differentiate Black Star from other options, I’d focus on 1) crafting memorable, award-winning beer 2) creating a simple but innovative menu, with some portion rotating based on season, and 3) creating a family-friendly environment.


What is your favorite Co-operative Principle and why?

Out of the seven co-operative principles, the principle that speaks the most to me is that of Democratic Member Control. There is strength in autonomy, in independence and strength in numbers. Democratic Member Control captures the significance of each member’s voice – with not one individual’s voice, opinion, or desire being greater than his or her neighbor’s. I believe in the co-operative board working for and with the Workers Assembly, with ultimate responsibility to the co-op members.

John Warren

Why are you interested in serving on the Board of Directors of the Co-op?
I want to continue working with the Board especially during these unprecedented CV-19 times and support Black Star to whatever is next.


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

I’ve always believed in the unique business model of the Co-op and believe that Black Star will survive these unprecedented times. The Member-Owner model, together with its Community focus, has proven resilience. What comes next after the pandemic is the big unknown. My goal is the survival and future growth of Black Star as a business yet to be defined.


What qualities and past experience do you have for serving on the Black Star Co-op Board of Directors?
I have 20+ years of business management experience albeit not in the brewing or restaurant business, however, I believe that I have proven the value of my acumen as a board member.

Name one way in which you’d like the Black Star Co-op Pub and Brewery to stand out from other local brewpubs.
The Black Star Co-op model survived and then thrived post CV-19!


What is your favorite Co-operative Principle and why?

As a second-term candidate, my favorite principal has changed to 5th Principle: Education, Training and Information. During these unprecedented times we are all learning and sharing for the benefit and
survival of Black Star.

Cheers to 10 Years!

Hey folks! As I’m sure everyone would agree, 2020 has been one hell of a ride. Over the last 5 months, running Black Star Co-op has been a challenge to say the least, but the year had originally promised to be such a banger! January started us off when our good friend Ted Cheavens finished a beautiful mural on the exterior of our building. We placed an order for a brand new set of amazing wooden table tops in February to help brighten up the space. The Craft Brewers Conference was slated to come to San Antonio in April which would have brought in brewers/friends from all across the world to experience our awesome beer scene in Texas! And then, our 10 Year Anniversary Party. This was huge. Black Star Co-op has served our community, member-owners and workers for an entire decade. The workers put in a ton of effort to plan this event, making sure it would be as special as it should be for such a historic landmark. Unfortunately, you know how the story actually played out, and that didn’t sit too well with us. So (with social distancing practices in mind) next Saturday, August 15th, we will be releasing several beers: A special bottle release of Moebius (bourbon barrel aged stout), Black Is Beautiful, our collaboration beer with Weathered Souls in San Antonio, Texas, and a couple of special kegs we’ve been holding onto. Then on Sunday August 16th at 2PM, we will be hosting a virtual Cheers to 10 Years! via Facebook live. We ask that you swing by, grab some bottles/crowlers/growlers on Saturday, then join us on Sunday to celebrate Black Star’s 10 decade long legacy of slinging great food and beer in Austin, Texas. Thank you for all of your support over the years, it is truly a privilege to serve such a rad community of people.

Board Meeting Review

As long-time regular patrons of Black Star who enjoy the house beer and the wonderful staff, we have come to feel like a part of the Black Star family. We saw how the Co-op handled the COVID19 difficulties, successfully rising above other businesses in keeping patrons and staff safe while continuing to stay open, and were intrigued by the great opportunity offered in the May newsletter to attend a board meeting as guests.

Although we didn’t have any expectations beyond observing the meeting, we were immediately welcomed into the Zoom forum with an introduction of each member and warmly invited to participate throughout the meeting.  It was a bit disappointing to know that only one board member is female, but refreshing to learn that Dacia is the dedicated president (who attended despite feeling under the weather).  The board is comprised of a mixture of legacy and new members, and all seemingly dedicated to offering their talents to the success of our coop.

After a thorough presentation of the current state of affairs by Chris, who represented the staff, a few other topics were covered.  The meeting was run efficiently, and members were very respectful of each other’s time and contributions. We left feeling that the Co-op is in great competent hands, and that this is a group we would feel comfortable contributing as members.

Fresh Haps: What’s New at Black Star

Hey Everyone,

Just a quick update on changes that are happening this week, as well as a few exciting things we have on the horizon.

Extended Hours: Black Star will now be open from Noon-9pm on Saturdays and Sundays. Although we are still only operating Thursday – Sunday, we’re excited to get you the beer and grub you crave for both lunch/brunch and dinner on the weekends.

New Food Items: Our new Head Chef, Jeff Harper has put together some awesome Cook Em Yourself Kits that you can purchase on the spot. Take & Shake Fish Fry Kits feeds 2 and includes Gulf caught black drum, seasoned breadcrumb mixture, seasoned chips, and house aioli. $24, available Thursday – Sunday. English Breakfast Kits also feed 2 and include farm fresh eggs, house breakfast sausage, baked beans, arugula and tomato salad, and Easy Tiger toast. $18, available Saturday and Sunday.

Upcoming Beer Release: Lots to look forward to! Listed below are all upcoming beer releases, and their potential release dates:

Waterloo & Watermelon Waterloo: July 30th (Maybe sooner!)

Black is Beautiful: Mid August. A portion of proceeds will benefit Austin Justice Coalition

Special Reserves: Mid-August, keep an eye out.

Moebius: TBD, but it’s coming…

Merch Sale: We’re sitting on way too much winter inventory, so we’ve dropped some prices and encourage you to grab these babies while we got em. Mustard Hoodies $55 now $45. Red Acid Wash Tees $25 now $15. Beanies $19 now $10. Stock up now, you’ll thank yourself later.

Good Work Austin – Keeping Us Safe

While the City of Austin extends its Stay Home – Work Safe order through June 15, Texas continues its drive to Open Texas. These are dark times in our industry with many local restaurants (Threadgills, Enchiladas y Mas, and North by Northwest) permanently closing their doors due to the economic impact of the pandemic. Restaurants need customers. As local restaurants consider opening their doors in the near future, many are concerned about the health and safety of their workers, customers, and their communities. How can they best prevent the spread of Covid-19 once open? Should they regularly measure staff temperature? How can they develop policies that reassure customers that the restaurant
is a safe place to dine? What should they do if Covid-19 cases continue to rise? Should they deny service to guests who choose not to follow any guidelines they develop?


How can they answer these tough questions? Through cooperation, of course! Good Work Austin began as a group of local businesses advocating for the City of Austin’s paid sick leave ordinance, with Black Star Coop playing a critical activist role. GWA developed a re-opening agreement that provides answers to these critical questions for restaurants, their customers, and the community, which includes the following commitments.

  1. Reservation sites and websites will include notices that diners cannot enter the restaurant if
    they are exhibiting any symptoms of Covid-19. We will deny service to guests who do not follow
    our clearly stated guidelines
  2. Employees will be counseled on appropriate behavior at and away from work by a medical
    professional to make sure that they are not putting our community at risk.
  3. Staff temperatures must be taken daily. Anyone with a 99.6º or higher temperature will be sent
    home.
  4. Staff who have experienced COVID-19 symptoms will be sent home and must fulfill one of the
    following options: 1) receive a note from a doctor allowing them to return to work; 2) receive a
    negative result from a COVID-19 test; 3) complete a 14 day self-quarantine.
  5. If an employee tests positive for Covid-19, we will thoroughly sanitize our business and require
    staff who worked with the infected employee anytime in the last 14 days to be tested or
    quarantined for two weeks.
  6. We will include an Employee Wellness Charge to provide our employees with access to health
    care and paid sick leave.
  7. All dine-In customers will provide their names. All dine-in customers and employees will
    complete a Health Declaration.
  8. All staff must wear masks while in the restaurant. Customers must wear masks except when
    they have food or beverage in front of them.
  9. Hand washing will be enforced every 30 minutes for all staff.
  10. Staff will have no intentional physical contact and will constantly be aware of the necessity of
    social distancing.
  11. We will dedicate certain employees to service customers and/or divide spaces and redefine
    roles to further separate employees and customers.
  12. Menus will be on display, online, or be sanitized after each use. Single-use menus will be
    available by request.
  13. Hand Sanitation stations will be placed at the entrance & exit of the restaurant and outside the
    restrooms.
  14. We are committed to ensuring proper ventilation of our indoor spaces by cleaning & changing
    filters more frequently and/or increasing fresh airflow.
  15. Adopt all elements of Open Texas Minimum Standard Health Protocols for facility, customers,
    and employees.

Over 100 local businesses including coffee shops, restaurants, breweries, and hotels have signed the
agreement. Considering Black Star Coop’s guiding principles of cooperation among cooperatives and
concern for community, the Worker’s Assembly signed this agreement. Collectively following these guidelines as we continue to plan our opening will help Black Star Coop members and non-member customers make informed decisions about the risks related to the pandemic and ensure the health and safety of our hard-working Workers.

Black Star Co-op Needs YOU!

Run for the Board! Directors review and craft policies and principles, represent the interests of all Member-Owners, and collaborate with the Workersʼ Assembly.


Interested? Our next virtual Board Meeting will be held virtually, this Sunday morning at 9:30am. Attend in sweatpants if you wish!


Contact the Leadership Development Committee (ldc@blackstar.coop) or the board(board@blackstar.coop) so we know you’re planning on coming and can share the connection link.