Howdy, Members. Over the last few months we have been thinking about extending some sort of standing discount to our Members to show our appreciation as well as not confine it to a specific day in the week. After giving it some thought, we have decided to do away with the "Member-Owner Pint Nights" and instead, offer a standing discount of $4 for Rational House Beers ALL THE TIME. This will get rid of the $2 off Irrational Beers on Tuesdays, but, we thought a standing discount would be more accommodating for all Members. This change will be effective on June 1st, so I hope to see your faces around the pub!
Every fall Black Star Co-op Member-Owners vote for three 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;1
· Attend at least one Black Star Board Meeting within the last year;
· Attend a Candidate Orientation Session at Black Star;2 and,
· Submit your Declaration of Candidacy form.3
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: firstname.lastname@example.org .
1 If you have not yet paid your balance, you can do so online or at the Co-op.
2 The first Candidate Orientation Session will occur June 10th at 11am at Black Star Co-op.
3 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 22nd, 2017 by 11:59pm.
During Black Star’s annual election in the fall, you’ll be asked to vote “Yes” or “No” on a new set of Ends policies. So we will discuss the Ends Committee’s proposed policy and answer questions about it during the June 25th Members’ Assembly meeting at 12pm at the pub. In the meantime, we’ve already had some great questions from committee members, directors, and our member-owners who came out to the recent Ends Committee Q & A and we wanted to bring you up to speed.
Marcus wrote a great piece explaining why the board is tackling this work in the May newsletter. After the board drafted policies together, the Ends Committee shaped and edited them, and the member-owners at the Q & A gave their feedback, our current draft is:
“Black Star Co-op is a community-owned brewpub with inspired craft beer that contributes to a just society, a thriving cooperative community, and a resilient food system.”
Without further delay, here are the questions we’ve heard most often about both the process and the policy:
How will having a new Ends policy benefit the business?
The first way: telling our story. The WA has identified “telling their story” as one area weakness. The trend in Ends policies in the consumer co-op world is to have the policy be as concise as possible, quickly telling an elevator speech story of what the co-op is working to create. The Ends Policies, if written well, can tell that story on behalf of the co-op, and can be used by the Workers to create ways to infuse our purpose into their marketing materials.
The second way: allowing optimal creativity for our professional staff to find ways to fulfill Ends, without the Board and members stipulating the details of the means. Current Ends policies are very proscriptive, for example, says “ will be zero waste by 2015.” Having a concise and broad vision makes the Ends policies more flexible, which allows the workers to choose the means of Ends fulfillment which most suit the business’ needs and the competitive marketplace.
Does changing the Ends policy help change the balance of our business from having a large restaurant and small brewery to be more focused on either brewing or selling beer?
No, but it allows for it. Our current Ends policy states that we will “earn excellent reviews on our food” etc. (A1.1), stipulating that the cooperative sell food. In A3.3, l “purchase local, organic products [...] when feasible” - organic is a food designe. The proposed policies only reference to food is that the co-op “contributes to [...] a resilient food system” and there are ways of doing that which do not involve selling food. So were the leadership of the cooperative so inspired to quit selling food, nothing in the new Ends policies would stop them, while provisions of the existing policies require the production of food.
There are things I really like about our current Ends policies. Which ones will exist somewhere else?
Paying a dividend to investor shareholders (A5.1): paying a dividend is provided for in our contract with our Member Investor Shareholders, is outlined in the Texas Business Organization Code 251.302, and can be found in policy D11 - Allocation of Net Savings.
Pay a patronage rebate (A5.3): the process for paying a patronage rebate is fully detailed in the Texas Business Organization Code Section 251.302. When the co-op posts a taxable profit, it is of financial benefit to both the organization and our individual members to reduce the taxable burden via issuance of a patronage rebate.
Worker treatment: The Board places constraints on the WA to ensure a great workplace in the D2 - Staff Treatment policy, and constraints to ensure the fairness and competitiveness of compensation in D3 - Remuneration. The Additional Principles section of our Bylaws stipulate pay wage based on Universal Living Wage when able, use participatory self-management, and section 5. Workers’ Assembly lays out the highest level processes for the self management of the Worker’s Assembly.
“Earn excellent reviews on our food beer, and service.” (A1.1)- The Ends policy says that Black Star will use “inspired craft beer” to create a just society, etc. While the current A1.1 tells Black Star which data will prove that they are fulfilling the Ends, the new policy allows them the freedom to utilize their own metrics. Our current Ends stipulate that we be crowd pleasing. Our proposed Ends use “inspired”, as having crowd-pleasing beer is necessary to staying open and therefore a given.
Open a second location (A5.4). Board policy D4 - Financial Condition states that “the WA may not cause or allow the cooperative to be unprepared for future opportunities.” D188.8.131.52 states that the allocation of net savings should “support the co-op’s growth”. While opening a second location is one way for the organization to grow, there could be other opportunities to grow, which our Ends need not exclude.
Environmental Sustainability (A3) - While A3 provides for specifics, like buying alternative energy, promoting alternative transportation, using water and energy efficiently, and producing zero waste, in the proposed policy “resilient food system” and “just society” provide the same value based-aims, and allow the WA more latitude to choose the right thing for our business needs.
Gemutlichkeit (A1.3) - In our new policies, “cooperatively-owned brewpub”, “just society”, and “a thriving cooperative community” are all phrases which emphasize the strength of our community, both Austin, our member-owners, and our fellow cooperative businesses. Isn’t strong, connected community what truly creates Gemutlichkeit?
Community Involvement (A2) Many owners appreciate the support of nonprofits selected by our owners in annual elections, as provided for in A2.2. The proposed Ends policy still allows for this practice in support of a “just society”. “Support[ing] cooperatives, local businesses and other community endeavors” (A.2.3) is a sentiment found in the proposed Ends’ “a thriving cooperative community.”
We had a big crisis to overcome in January, and thanks to the amazing community around Black Star, the workers and member-owners we were able to save our brew-pub. This was an outstanding achievement, but it also highlighted a few parts of the business that weren’t working as well as we had thought they would. One component that stood out in multiple conversations at Board meetings, discussions with the WA, and during our January discussion was that our Ends policies were so specific and proscriptive that they didn’t allow the WA the latitude in decision making required to achieve our goals and run a great business.
Ok Marcus I get it, but how does changing the Ends really fix anything? To understand that requires getting your hands a little bit dirty in the world of policy governance. Policy is how the Black Star board lays out goals and rules for operations. Every decision and action taken has its roots in a regularly monitored policy. The body of governing policies is called the Policy Register and the Ends are the goals of the co-op, found at the start of the Policy Register in section A. Since the Ends are in the register they get monitored and are things that we as a co-op hold the WA accountable to. Removing the specifics and being more aspirational will grant the WA and the co-op greater flexibility in responding to the dynamic competing demands of operation a brew-pub. This would also remove competing long term goals that were tied to specific actions and replace them with an overarching vision of the world our cooperative helps create.
The Board recently created an Ends Committee composed of two Directors and two Member Owners. We researched industry best practices for writing Ends.Using input from the January Member Forum, and a Board Retreat to distill what our Ends are into a much easier digested message. The overarching theme is simple as it is on our shirts Eat, Drink, Cooperate. Instead of a multiple page document heavy with details we are proposing the Ends be changed to something similar to to “Black Star Co-op is a community-owned brewpub that welcomes all people to the table with inspired craft beer, and contributes to a world with a just society, a thriving cooperative community and a resilient local food system.” We are having a Q & A with the Ends Committee on Tuesday May 9th at the pub from 7-8. Come to ask questions or give feedback and help us create the version to be shared with owners at the next Member Assembly meeting. The plan is to have a new Ends Policy on the ballot with Board elections in the fall. We look forward to having a robust conversation with you about the future of our cooperative!
Back in January of this year I was approached by one of our board members, Cole, to see if we were interested in a potential collaboration with a brewer from the Netherlands. I was immediately intrigued, so we agreed to start a dialogue via email where I was then introduced to the brewer, Thibo Baccarne. Thibo is a young brewer who took on an internship at Westmalle Brewery when he was just 17 years old and is now quite seasoned and working for a brewery called Brouwerslokaal(Local Brewer) in the Netherlands. We began exchanging emails and soon I became pretty excited about creating this beer since I could tell both of our creative juices were flowing. Ultimately we landed on a Saison recipe that we would then slightly sour in order to give it an acidic backbone, and then re-ferment the beer with a sizeable amount of guava puree. Our hope is that this beer turns out tart, very tropical and effervescent with some spicy yeast character peppered in as well. To make this collaboration particularly exciting, Thibo will be coming over to the states for a week so that we can brew this beer together and take copious amounts of pictures(as well as beer shots) on the week of the 8th. Unfortunately, Thibo will not be here to attend the release, but he will be taking the recipe back to the Netherlands in hopes to brew a batch a Brouerslokaal. This currently unnamed beer will be unveiled here at Black Star on May 26th so look for the event on Facebook, you don't want to miss this one!
Last week, I attended the annual RAISE (Restaurants Advancing Industry Standards in Employment) conference in Washington, D.C. This was our fifth year to come together to oppose the National Restaurant Association, and their efforts to maintain low wages for restaurant workers. This year’s trip to Capitol Hill was more productive than I expected, given the current political climate. It was also the first year that we weren’t the only restaurant from Texas represented, which gave us an opportunity to lobby Texas representatives for the first time. Members of RAISE convened in D.C. from all over the country to share stories and advice on business practices, discuss the Sanctuary Restaurant movement, and to lobby Congress regarding One Fare Wage initiatives in the House and Senate.
The One Fair Wage movement is working towards eliminating the current two tier wage structure that separates tipped and non tipped workers wages. The current federal minimum wage for tipped workers has maintained a low of $2.13 an hour since 1991, a system that allows restaurants to profit from underpaying their workers and allowing for customers to pay them instead. Restaurants are obligated to ensure that workers wages equal $7.25 an hour when tips fall short of supplementing their low base pay, but this system is often neglected and abused. Last year, in Travis County, the Department of Labor investigated a low sampling of 60 Austin area restaurants that they had received complaints about, and found that the restaurants owed workers $330,000 for wage infractions ranging from not making up the minimum wage, illegal tip pools, and straight wages when overtime wages are due.
Joining me this year from Austin, was Owner and General Manager of Loca D’Oro in the Mueller development, Adam Orman. Together we visited both of our representatives, Lloyd Doggett (D-35th dist.), and Bill Flores (R-17th dist). We got to meet with Rep. Doggett, which is unusual, but a great opportunity as he is an ally in the fight for wage reform. As a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, he is familiar with the One Fair Wage campaign, and is interested in helping where he can. Our meeting with Rep. Flores’s staff was interesting, as they were not educated on how low tipped wages are, and how, as the representative of a highly rural area, this low wage negatively affects their constituents. Overall, I felt that the meeting was a success, and despite the party line opposition to wage iniatives, I feel they were genuinely earnest in expressing concern for how low tipped wages affected folks in their district.
We also held two hearings, one in the House with Rep. Keith Ellison of Minnesota and other members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus staff, and one in the Senate with Senator Patty Murray of Washington and staff from Sanders, Durbin, Udall, Hirono, and Warren’s offices. Rep. Ellison has been working with us for the past few years, and is an extremely important ally now that he is the Co-Chair of the DNC. One of my panel-mates was a the owner of a bakery in Ellison’s district that he’s held fundraiser at, which was pretty cool. Senator Murray had a bill in play in the last Congress to raise both the tipped and non-tipped minimum wages that died.
As you know, Black Star Co-op has committed to paying living wages since we opened in 2010, and has never accepted gratuities. We have long been at the forefront of this movement. Compared to several of our allies involved in RAISE, Black Star is farther along in it’s life cycle, and we are able to tell the cautionary tale of what happens when sales slow, and you're operating on High Road business practices: that it is very difficult to do the right thing by your workers when you are operating on an uneven playing field in a depressed sales climate. Even though we have chosen a pay structure that ensures we provide good wages and benefits to our workers voluntarily, it is difficult to tolerate that our business can be in jeopardy because of value and ethically driven wages, doing the right thing.
The month of March is without a doubt one of the most exciting pages on the calendar here in Austin. Not only does my birthday fall at the top of the month, but the city has also included other major holidays and events throughout. This is why we at Black Star have been focusing extremely hard on creating lots of fun and celebratory events for our member-owners and patrons (even though I consider this my own personal month long birthday celebration).
In addition to our standing monthly events like the Beers n Bikes Social Ride, an exceptionally curated selection of Video Game Tournaments, and outdoor Patio Parties (our latest addition), we’ve included a ten day celebration of our favorite beverage that we’re calling Beer by Beerfest. From March 10th-19th, we will be offering a rotating selection of $4 house beers (including irrationals!) every hour (it’s a steal!). To kick it off, we’ll be screening the classic film Beerfest, “a classic tale of romance and tragedy,” on our big screen.
As we head into the next week, we’ll be hosting our first round of Hop Madness, followed by SπSw on 3/14, and the incredibly anticipated release of Can’t Quit You Too (Can’t Keep Quittin’ You). But that’s not all! We’ve also got Corned Beef and Cask to celebrate our patron St. Patrick, an outdoor Pig Roast for Hope that will focus on suicide prevention and mental health education.
Finally, our closing ceremonies will include another house beer release called Yes, Chef!, a collaborative effort between the beer and kitchen teams. A quarterly Red Line Brewery Tour is on the map, and our Second Semi Annual Cutest Puppy on the Patio Contest is well under way. I think we could all agree, March 2017 is shaping up to be one amazing month long Black Star Co-op Party, even if the focus is only kind of on my birthday.
** MARCH MONDAY MADNESS is also happening every Monday for March Madness!! Enjoy our Happy Hour menu from 4-7pm while watching the games on our projector screen! **
Later this month we’ll be going back to Washington, D.C. to lobby for fair wages, worker, women, and immigrant’s rights, and increasing the tipped minimum wage for industry workers. This will be the fourth year we’ve gone to D.C. to counter lobby the National Restaurant Association in solidarity with our friends from around the country in both the ROC and RAISE organizations.
This year, we will have to renew our fight for restaurant workers after making significant progress over the past few years. As your man on the steering committee for RAISE, it’s important to say that even though the 2016 election went a little wonky, four states passed ballot initiatives to increase the minimum wage. Colorado, Arizona, Maine and Washington all increased their state minimum wage to $12 an hour, which will be phased in over the next few years.
Your Kitchen Team will be putting out our SXSW menu this week. We are working on a new format this year that will highlight more seasonal items, but still keeps our favorite items around. Over the past year, we’ve established a few new relationships with local purveyors, ranchers, and farmers that we want to showcase.
After South By, we will be moving into spring seasonal menus. Unlike previous years, we will be changing the menu more frequently to be more ingredient driven, preparing our members and patrons more of a range of what our area has to offer. In doing this, we’ll be moving away from daily specials, to focus on a menu that is more like a group of specials.
We’ve recently started getting pasture raised heritage pork form Boxcar Farms in Maxwell, TX. The quality of the pork is outstanding, and these hogs are being raised specifically for us, which is a really shortens our food chain. We’ve also started buying seafood from Heritage Seafood, who took over some of the coastal contacts of Roberto San Miguel. If you’ve seen seafood specials over the last few months, there is a good chance we sourced the protein through Heritage (including the recent crawfish boil).
Anyway, we hope that you will enjoy this change, and we understand that you have favorite items, we do too. However, it’s important to remember that we try and keep everything very seasonal and local around here, and sometimes that means killing our darlings and taking items off the menu for a spell. If that makes you want get your pitchforks out, that’s fine, feel free to email me at email@example.com.
1. Why did I not know sooner about our financial condition?
The Board has communicated regularly to the membership through our annual reports, membership newsletters, and member assemblies regarding our financial condition as well as actions being taken to address the issue. At the last annual members meeting held on October 30, 2016, we discussed our declining sales, challenges facing the co-op, our ends policies and the 2015 annual report, which stated:
“Monthly net losses through the second half of the year strained the Co-op’s cash position, making it challenging to pay our obligations and employees on time.”
Our financial condition has also been a point of considerable discussion at our board meetings, which are open to all members.
2. Why was the letter sent out by the Worker’s Assembly (WA)?
As of Sunday, December 4th board meeting, cash projections combined with November sales data, and a robust plan of events for December projected a similar financial situation relative to the last two years. While deemed not acceptable long term, our forecasts provided enough time for the board and WA to continue laying the groundwork required to propose changes to our ends at the next member assembly meeting. However, on Wednesday, December 28th, during a regularly scheduled meeting, the Board Staff Liaison (BSL) informed the board president that December sales had come in considerably under forecast. The WA was asked to evaluate the situation at their next leadership meeting and determine next steps. On Monday, January 2nd, the WA developed new cash projections based on December’s revenue numbers, which indicated an inability to continue functioning within the next couple of months if trends continued. On Thursday, January 5th, the WA informed the President that January sales had continued to fall under revised forecasts, and the WA sent out the letter to members informing them of our current financial condition.
3. What has been done to address our financial condition?
In an attempt to address this issue and with growing concern by the Board, the WA has implemented several initiatives over the past couple of years to increase revenue including the addition of lunch service, no longer including tax on food pricing, raising overall prices, successful events like the crawfish boil, a larger social media presence, removing the dart area to increase functional space for customers, and adding an outside awning to make the patio more comfortable during the summer. In addition, to keep expenses in check the WA implemented a wage freeze, a 5% pay cut, an increase in out of pocket health care expenses by employees and numerous optimizations to controllable costs.
4. Why hasn’t more been done to correct the situation?
The WA is charged with the daily operations (beer, food, pricing, furniture, location, etc.) for the co-op and have implemented numerous initiatives to address our financial condition. The Board has continued to provide guidance to the WA as defined by our role. However, we are obligated to operate within the guidelines of our ends. While it has become clear that potentially significant changes to our ends will be required to allow for our business to evolve, the process of proposing and changing our ends requires time to develop and support from our membership.
5. How will we prevent this from happening in the future?
The Board is in the process of evaluating our options to maintain profitability in a continually changing and competitive market. Thanks to a significant increase in patronage over the last few weeks, we have the runaway to finalize a new business plan and operating structure within the next 3 months, which will likely require the membership to vote on changes to our ends.
6. Why don’t we hire a GM to develop and maintain the business?
Blackstar’s End Policy A.4 states that “Black Star Co-op will provide an empowering environment for all workers through worker self-management.” A change to this Ends Policy would require approval by the Co-op’s membership. Currently, the Workers Assembly is divided into four teams: the Beer Team, the Kitchen Team, the Pub Team, and the Business Team. These four teams are self-managed. However, hiring a general manager is an option that the Board and the Workers Assembly will continue to discuss.
7. How can I help?
One competitive advantage that the Co-op has over other similar businesses are its members, and the skills and experience they have. The Board has used the talents of its members on a variety of projects including participation on the Annual Report Review and Bylaws Committee as well as discussions at our Member Assembly meetings. If you would like to serve on a committee, please contact the Board via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, and if you are interested in serving on the Board, please contact the leadership development committee at email@example.com. However, the most direct way for members to support the Co-op is to visit it and recommend it to your friends.
8. Why can’t I see our financials and business plan?
It’s important for any business to keep its financial records such as daily cash flow, detailed business plans and strategy, contracts, profit and loss statements and balance sheets confidential. With the exception of the annual report, this information is not shared with the membership at large. This information is compiled by the Workers Assembly (WA) and shared with the Co-op Board of Directors (Board) on a regular basis.
9. What will happen if we close?
The Co-op, like all other businesses, is subject to closing whether permanently or temporarily based on sales and profitability. The Board plans to form a Sunset Committee at their next official meeting to examine the definition of closing, what triggers a decision to close, and the sequential processes for closing. This group will report their findings at the next annual Member meeting. Members are welcome to join this committee.
The Board has several committees which are either active or activating, and now’s the time to join up if you’re interested in deepening your commitment to Black Star and helping to lead our cooperative.
All committees will involve email communications, some work from home, as well as in-person committee meetings, usually at the pub. Joining a committee is a great way to serve your community owned business without taking on full-on directorship. It’s also a great way to explore the Board’s work to see if you’re interested in running for the Board.
The Ends Committee will be reviewing our existing Ends and drafting new ones to create a guiding vision for our cooperative. Ends will be proposed to members and voted on at a Members’ Assembly meeting. Email Beth at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’re interested.
The Outreach Committee ensures that the Board is keeping the membership engaged by organizing Member-Owner Extravaganzas and other events, as well as helping to plan communications. Email Marcus at email@example.com to get involved.
In order to inform the Board’s work, The Sunset Committee will research under what conditions the co-op should close, and what decision points the Board should consider. Email the Board at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’re interested in serving on this committee.
Annual Report Review Committee:
The Annual Report Review Committee ensures that the Annual Report meets all of the criteria set out by the Texas Business Organization Code and that it is properly filed with the state. Email Charles at email@example.com to join the ARRC.
The Finance Committee does direct inspections of the cooperative’s books upon request of the board, considers and makes recommendations for financial audit or review, and ensures that all directors have the skills required to understand financial materials presented to them. Email Cole at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more.
If you are interested in committee service but aren’t sure where you’d be the best fit, email the Board at email@example.com and we’ll help find the right place for you.
2017 is here, and many of us couldn't be happier. The previous year left its scars on us and the wider world. So as we shed the cumulative experiential skin of 2016 and nakedly begin our 2017, I thought we could share a few of our resolutions for this new year.
From our Workers:
"To keep my apartment mostly clean." - Forest
"I don't really do resolutions, but I want to eat fewer chips, ranch, and drink less beer (specifically at Black Star). Maybe that's not super conducive to getting people in here, but that's my thing—be less of a fat kid." - Rachel
"My New Year's Resolution is to not take lighters that don't belong to me. And to keep better track of chapsticks and my bobby pins." - Grace
"To get swole." - Anonymous
"I still resolve to get famous this year. I don't give up on my dreams. My co-op resolution is to master the art of spreadsheets by July 2017." - Jodi
"I resolve to get all the fries in my mouth and none in my car seat crack." - Andy
"I resolve to be a more open and honest coach and student for my co-workers.
I resolve to be a better husband and son.
I resolve to drink less beer.
I resolve to find a creative way to get our members excited again to be a part of the co-op they know and love.
I resolve to work hard to make Black Star Co-op survive the impending bursting of the restaurant and craft beer bubbles, and become a sustainable business that lasts for years like the Austin institution it is." - Johnny
"I resolve to pack my lunch at least once a week (and cut my monthly SUBWAY™ visits in half)." - Larry
"I resolve to eat more tacos." - Everyone
What are your resolutions for 2017?
Member-owners!! This December 24th, we'll be collecting toy donations for Safe Place Austin—one of our member-owner selected organizations for the Co-op to support.
SafePlace provides safety for individuals and families affected by domestic violence, and sexual assault and exploitation through campus-based prevention and intervention services. In addition, the organization promotes safe and healthy relationships, increasing the capacity for abuse prevention in Central Texas. afePlace works with community partners to create change in attitudes, behaviors and policies that perpetuate the acceptance of, and impact our understanding and responses to, sexual and domestic violence. SafePlace is a Founding Partner with the Austin Children’s Shelter of The SAFE Alliance, or SAFE | Stop Abuse For Everyone.
We would also like to encourage you to visit their website to make cash donations: http://www.safeaustin.org/safeplace/
When I agreed to write a piece about our Fall menu, I originally intended it be an overview about new items, but things have changed. It’s been a while since I’ve written anything for the newsletter, so I wanted to do something a more than just a little listicle or something about menu items. I wanted to tell you a story about a trip I took to research pub-food; to find myself.
I’m pretty sure 2016 has been a suck year for most of us—economic instability, political upset, and countless deaths of creative heroes have left me feeling that the there is a serious deficit of good magic. And most of what is left the Cubs used to win the series. That being said, Thursday of the election week I was working the grill when Ben Davis came in and told me that Leonard Cohen had died. I immediately started crying, then my phone started blowing up with texts from friends who knew how much his work had meant to me.
Early in 2008, Leonard had announced that he would be going on tour for the first time in about fifteen years, and I knew I had to see him in case he died or something, but all of the tour dates were in Europe and Canada, so I knew travel was going to be necessary to see a show (something I wasn’t a stranger to considering I was a Phish fan and had traveled thousands of miles to see those guys already). Originally, I had decided it would be nice to see him on my birthday in July, but, unfortunately, the timing didn’t work out since it was in the middle of the summer, and that August... Well you know what happened.
I ended up deciding on going to London in November, and was going to double dip and use the opportunity to eat my way through the city and do some research for the Black Star draft menu. At the time, I was managing the Produce department at Wheatsville and serving on the board of directors at Black Star, and hadn’t decided to change careers, but I was moving in that direction. I had a pretty random, but entertaining food blog going on the side documenting my food adventures.
In London, I stayed with my bff’s girlfriend, who was a local, and made an efficient plan to eat every fish and chip I could, go to a few pubs, and eat a fancy meal or three. I put in work. I ate fish and chips in pubs, regular restaurants, and several chippys. I had two meals at the Duke of Cambridge, the only certified organic gastropub in the UK. I went to the Borough Market and ate too many oysters, ate an amazing Sunday roast at a hole-in-the-wall pub in Nottingham, and had one of the best meals of my life at St. John. Oh, and beer! I also “researched” beer. Lots and lots of beer. Mostly in the form of properly pulled cask pints.
The Leonard Cohen concert was later in the week at the O2 Arena. My London homies took me to see Kayne West (not great) beforehand at the same venue. It was the 808 and Heartbreak tour right after his mom died from the bad cosmetic surgery, and even though it was dark and weird, it was nothing like the Cohen show. I was not prepared for the emotional heights of that show garnered. I was just some daft twenty-seven-year-old punk with a huge afro and a Hawaiian shirt in a sea of British folk. I was unprepared for the three-hour tear fest that ensued.
Beyond the emotional depths of the concert, I learned a few things in that ten day stretch of gastronomical delights: that the best fish and chips don’t use cod, that stilton is the king of cheese, that cheese is the best dessert, and that simple British peasant pub food is some of the best food in the world.
Which leads me to our next menu. A return to our pub fare roots; a homecoming of sorts. We are happy to be bringing back some of our Winter classics: chicken fried chicken, bangers and mash, shepherd’s pie, and our bowl of red. We are really stoked to bring these dishes back to the Co-op. Personally, these are some of my favorite dishes that we make all year, and if it wasn’t so effing hot here, we’d run them year round. Hopefully, you’re like me and this news excites you, and you’ll be in here to grub tough on some mashed potatoes and tasty treats.
As we move into 2017, I hope these meals will give a little comfort to all of us. Wrapping up with some irony, when I got home from that trip Leonard Cohen announced his US tour. It opened in with two nights in Austin.
The Austin Beer Guide's "Best of 2016 Readers Poll" is out now! Vote now for your co-op, along with all of Austin's other fantastic beer establishments and products:
Week of Wood, Black Star Co-op's 7 day invocation at the alter of barrel aged beer, returns to herald a new age--THE BARREL AGE. We've got 8 releases throughout the week (November 28-December 4) to scratch that "rare & limited" itch.
EPSILON, our barrel-aged (duh) scotch peated ale
Barrel-Aged DOUBLE DEE, our house amber
ABERRANT NO. 6, our barrel-aged sour porter
Barrel-Aged DECEIT, Funkwerks Belgian strong ale
Tequila Barrel-Aged CIDER, Eastciders 6 month aged cider in Dulce Vida Tequila barrels
Whiskey Barrel-Aged BURIED HATCHET, Southern Star strong American stout
RED & WHITE, Dogfish Head oak aged Belgian white ale
Smoked HELLES, Live Oak smoked German lager
We'll be announcing the beer release schedule soon, keep yourself updated by rsvp'ing to the Facebook event page:
RSVP on Facebook
On Monday October 31st, 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. There were 3 open seats on the Board of Directors, and a slate of local non-profits nominated by our membership.
Your newly-elected Directors:
- Annelies Lottmann
- Greg Cumpton
- Kyle Voosen
The organizations we pledge to support in 2017:
- Capital Area Food Bank (85 votes)
- Planned Parenthood (83 votes)
- Austin Habitat for Humanity (80 votes)
- Austin Children's Shelter (74 votes)
Thank you all for Voting! And thank you to our exiting directors, Kenley Maddux and Steve Basile, for their years of service.
Attention, community-minded members! Each year, our member-owners select organizations for the Co-op to support. This November, we'll support Meals on Wheels Central Texas. Meals on Wheels Central Texas supports homebound adults and people with disabilities through programs that promote independent living. Some of these programs include meal delivery, grocery shopping assistance, in-home care, home repair, and pet care. They currently provide services to nearly 5,000 people in the Austin community.
To support Meals on Wheels Central Texas, we're collecting in-kind donations through Thanksgiving. They're currently seeking:
- Meal replacement drinks like Ensure
- Household items like laundry detergent and cleaning supplies
- Gift cards to HEB, Walmart, or Target ($20 increments)
- Pet food, cat litter, or gently used pet supplies for pets
As a thank you for your contribution to this donation drive, the Co-op would like to buy you a Rational pint of house beer. Please bring in your donation by Sunday, November 27th.
If you're interested in volunteering with Meals on Wheels and More, you can find out more on the Volunteer page of their website. Thank you for helping the Co-op support community organizations.
Our 2016 Spring Members Assembly Meeting is this Sunday, October 30th from 12:00-1:30pm. Here's the agenda for the meeting:
What do you do at Black Star?
I Serve you that beer!
Where are you from?
Your favorite beer on tap?
The best part of working at a cooperative would be…?
Being a part of a family <3
Do you think it would be fun to dance on the moon, or would a space suit be too cumbersome?
Since I just found out the moon isn't made of cheese, I have no interest in that.
Late night craving preference: sweet or savory?
The best of both worlds please! Chips and queso with a tub of ice cream.
Any tips oh how to game the stock market?
Snort a lot of c**aine, take three shots of whiskey, and begin the gambling.
Whatever happened to Renée Zellweger anyways?
She's pregnant with some hot dude's baby.