category Membership

A Few Operational Changes at the Co-op

You may have noticed few changes to the way Black Star Co-op does business over the past couple weeks. We want to address some of these changes here, to provide an explanation for why the changes were necessary. 

Firstly, we’ll be closing the pub with kitchen at the same time throughout the week: 11:00pm. Over the past year we’ve tacked a sharp drop in patronage during late-night service, after the kitchen closes. With too few customers coming in between 11:00pm and 1:00am, it made little sense for us to stay open. So while we’re sorry for any inconvenience it may cause patrons who enjoyed late-night drinks on the weekend, it wouldn’t be fiscally responsible of us to stay open past 11:00pm. 

Secondly, food prices will no longer be sales tax inclusive. With kitchen expenses rising, we were left with two options to cover those expenses: substantially raise menu item prices, or fall in with the rest of Austin’s restaurants and have sales tax added to your bill’s bottom line.

While these changes constitutes a small change from how we’ve done business in the past, we’re confident that it’s for the best. After all, a positive change to our business and the bottom line, is in turn better for the Members.

A Time to Give: Support Black Star’s 2015 Charity Organizations

In this season of giving, we’d like to encourage our Member-Owners and friends to contribute to any of Black Star Co-op’s chosen 2015 non-profit organizations. Below we’ve provided links to our selected charity organizations and their donations pages. Let’s actively do as much good for our community as possible, cooperatively!

Safe Place Austin: 

“The SAFE Alliance is a structured partnership between SafePlace and Austin Children’s Shelter, two organizations that serve the survivors of child abuse and neglect, sexual assault and exploitation, and domestic violence.”

http://www.safeaustin.org/get-involved/give/donate/

Meals on Wheels and More

Meals on Wheels and More seeks to nourish and enrich the lives of the homebound and other people in need through programs that promote dignity and independent living.”

http://www.mealsonwheelsandmore.org/give/

Austin Children’s Shelter

“Austin Children’s Shelter provides on-campus services for children, young adults and families affected by abuse, exploitation and neglect. We believe that every child, youth and young adult deserves to feel safe; to receive nurturing care; and the opportunity to grow into happy, responsible and fulfilled adults. Austin Children’s Shelter is a safe space to begin to heal and learn to thrive.”

http://www.safeaustin.org/austinchildrensshelter/

Sustainable Food Center

We cultivate a healthy community by strengthening the local food system and improving access to nutritious, affordable food. SFC envisions a food secure community where all children and adults grow, share and prepare healthy, local food.”

http://sustainablefoodcenter.org/donate

#givingtuesday

Black Star Co-op’s 2015 Holiday Gift Packages

Our 2015 gift packages are now available, check out the full list of holiday offers below:

 

Imperial Gift Membership $180/$200
Fully paid membership, choice of growler (glass/insulated), Rational growler fill, pint glass, and brewzie.

Mega Sweet Gift Certificate Deal $100
Buy 5 $20 gift certificates, get an additional $20 certificate free

Growler Starter Set $35/$60
Choice of growler (glass/insulated) and 1 Rational growler fill

Black Star Swag $20
Choice of crew cut t-shirt, pint glass, and brewzie

Family Size Special $60/$85
Choice of growler (glass/insulated), 2 t-shirts, and baby onesie

Bundled Up Bundle $60/$85
Hoodie, choice of growler (glass/insulated), and brewzie

Fair Weather Fan Pack $20
Logo sunglasses, brewzie, and tank top

Holiday Four Pack $12/$16
4 Rational bottled 12 oz beers / 3 Rational beers and an Irrational 

2015 Election Wrap Up

On Friday October 30th, Black Star Co-op concluded the voting period for the new Board of Directors and the non-profit organizations to support in the upcoming year. We had 3 great candidates running for 3 available seats on the Board of Directors, and a slate of 22 local non-profits.

Here are your newly-elected Directors:

  • Beth Beutel
  • Cole Noppenberg
  • Marcus Wilson

We look forward to working with the following organizations in 2016:

  • Planned Parenthood
  • Capital Area Food Bank
  • Safe Place
  • Austin Habitat for Humanity
  • Meals on Wheels and More

Congratulations, everyone!

The Board would like to thank everyone for running, and it would especially like to express its deep gratitude to the out-going directors: Scott Kelley and John Vinson. These Directors have greatly contributed to the Co-op during their service on the Board, and their contributions will have long-term positive effects on Black Star for years to come.

Industry Shake-up: Union Square Hospitality Group Eliminates Tipping

Union Square Hospitality Group, Danny Meyer’s NYC restaurant group, announced yesterday that beginning in November they will be eliminating tipping at their restaurants. Several other restaurants that have made the move over the past two years have switched to a blanket “service fee” that is usually around 18%, but what USHG is doing is pretty radical. They have decided to raise their wages across the board to decrease the FOH and BOH pay divide, and raise menu prices by about 30 percent to pay for the increase in remuneration. Since most people usually tip around 20 percent, they are really only raising prices about 10 percent, and feel that this will be ok for their customers once they get used to it. This is a pretty bold move for a restaurant group that employs about 1800 people. 

So why is this important to us? Black Star has worked with ROC United and RAISE for a few years now, and much of what we discuss when we meet has to do with eliminating the two tier wage system that is prevalent in the industry. Although many states have recently moved to increase the tipped minimum wage from $2.13 an hour, there is still a lot of room for improvement in industry wages for both the front and back of house workers. Black Star’s structure as a member owned business is conducive to the non-gratuity based remuneration, but for restaurants that are privately owned or owned by restaurant groups, it’s been challenging to find a way to move away from the dominant paradigm without going out of business. This is why many businesses have gone to the flat fee, which is the current band-aid, but not the solution. What Meyer is proposing is far more radical. As we know, even with our structure, it is not easy to remunerate fairly and operate a business. There could be some potential to increase our visibility in town as a vanguard for where the industry IS going, not just as some socialist experiment. I’ve said it before, we decided to this nine and half years ago because it’s the right thing to do. It’s not the easy thing to do, but I still believe it’s the right thing to do, and since when has been doing the easy thing been rewarding or inspired real growth? 

There are a few links to some articles here, but I think this is interesting, and very timely. It’s especially encouraging to see a major restaurant group make this sort of sea change while working in conjunction with ROC and the RAISE Steering Committee. It’s already pretty divisive, and if you are a comment reader, each of these articles have some seriously opinionated comments going on. If your are interested in knowing more about tipped wages, wage gap, or anything else about what ROC or RAISE is doing, feel free to reach out to me: johnnyl@blackstar.coop.

Other Reading:

Vote in the 2015 Co-op Elections!

It’s that time of the year again! Become an active member in the democratic process of your Co-op and vote in our Co-op’s elections.

The election for Black Star Co-op’s Board of Directors begins Wednesday, September 30th and continues through Friday, October 30th. Our Board elections are conducted by single transferable vote, so the ballot is extremely simple. Just rank the candidates in your order of preference. Co-op member-owners will be able to vote online, at the brewpub, or at the 5th anniversary party.

Meet the candidates online or in person at the 5th anniversary party and then cast your ballot online or in person at the brewpub.

You may rank the candidates in order of preference from 1-3, with 1 being the most preferential and 3 the least. However, you don’t have to rank them all; you can leave fields blank if you’re not comfortable ranking the candidate. The election will close, and all ballots will be counted by the end of the day Friday, October 30th and the results will be announced the following week. And don’t forget to vote for which community groups we support next year!

The following non-profits are currently on the slate for our support in 2016 based on suggestions submitted to us in the Spring Member-Owners Survey. If there’s an organization that you think deserves our Co-op’s support, there is a write-in option on the ballot. 

Community Support Organizations

Vote Online

Send Us Your Black Star Reccomendations

We’re printing some new table tents with worker recommendations on them, but we’d also like to hear from you. 

Send your favorite menu items to info@blackstar.coop and tell us what you like about them. Or maybe you have a recommended modification that really enhances your favorite dish. A suggested a beer pairing is always welcome as well (it must be one of our house beers however). 

Here are some examples:

“I love the avocado club made vegan. Substitute a side salad if you’re saving your carbs for beer. My favorite house beer right now is Pneuma. This clean, crisp, hoppy beer tastes great with creamy avocados. You’re gonna love it!” – Dana, Business Team

“I love the NEW! Goat Cheese and Veggie Sandwich, made vegan. The sunbutter is made in house and taste so great with the veggies and Easy Tiger sourdough. I pair it with a High Esteem because I like the crisp, smooth, light summery flavor of the in-house beer.” – Brenna, Pub Team

“If you want something amazing, order the chips and cheddar with bacon, green onions, and sour cream. It’s our chips, loaded baked potato style! It tastes great with a Vulcan.” – Mike, Beer Team

Please send us your recommendations, the world must know what you love to eat at Black Star Co-op!