With continuing slow sales, Black Star Co-op still in financial trouble 

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With continuing slow sales, Black Star Co-op still in financial trouble 

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Emma Janzen/American-Statesman

Restaurant sales are typically slower in the summer months, but Black Star Co-op is hoping they tick up nonetheless six months after the threat of closure caused the cooperatively owned business to send a plea to its member-owners, asking them to patron the brewpub. 

Although the plea worked — giving Black Star its biggest sales day on record in January — a recent blog post published on the Black Star website said that “we aren’t out of the woods yet.”

The North Austin brewpub has seen historically low sales following the gangbusters January, and “If we do not see improvement in our sales, we will be heading towards a similar cash crunch in the fall,” Johnny Livesay, the co-op’s co-founder, said in the blog post. And it’s not just slow sales that has him and the rest of Black Star Co-op worried.

Black Star’s cooperatively owned business was revolutionary when it launched in 2010 as the first consumer-owned and democratically managed brewery. It’s now no longer the only one with this business model now and is one of several brewpubs in Austin. To stay afloat, it is considering minor changes to its worker structure: most notably having a general manager who will oversee the four teams that run the brewpub, from the beer team to the kitchen team.

In a Community Impact story, Livesay also notes that Black Star’s location, in a mixed-use complex off North Lamar Boulevard with limited parking, is no doubt contributing to the slowdown in sales, and Black Star might be moving in a few years — with the chance that it could become a full-blown restaurant or a production brewery with a food truck nearby, depending on the space it can land.

Certainly, Black Star Co-op isn’t the only Austin restaurant seeing dwindling sales in an increasingly more competitive market. But the brewpub has a built-in way to get them with its member-owners. If they give “long-term sustained patronage,” Livesay noted in the blog post, the co-op can “get back on track to sales growth.”

Want to help the brewpub stay successful? Livesay asks that you stop by for a pint or a burger over the next few months. 

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