2/25/2013 03:01:00 PM

A Day in the Life: Johnny Livesay, Black Star Co-Op Co-Founder

You’ve probably enjoyed a great microbrew and killer hamburger at Black Star Co-Op, but you may not know Johnny Livesay, one of the masterminds behind both of those. The restaurant arm of the beer co-op has been serving uncommonly good pub food since 2010, and Livesay, a co-op co-founder and board member as well as the kitchen team leader, developed the menu. Unlike the more than 3,000 member-owners of the first and only cooperatively owned and worker-managed brewpub in the U.S., Livesay (who honed his co-op chops as the produce manager at Wheatsville Co-Op) spends most of his time in the Black Star kitchen, creating those dishes. Here’s how a typical Friday goes:

8:30 - 9:45 Coffee and email review. I typically start my day by grinding beans and French pressing some coffee. Then I move on to breakfast tacos. If you’re not from Texas, this part of the day may not seem very important. It is. Lately I’ve been making fresh tortillas for my wife and I. We usually have egg and serrano tacos.

9:45 - 10:30 Work on the computer. I finish up any lingering administrative work before leaving my house for the day. Sometimes, if I’m ahead of the curve, I’ll get a chance to read.

10:30 - 12:30 Go to the gym. If you work in a kitchen or are just a foodie hell bent on trying all the pork belly in your town, you should probably go to the gym. I’ll do some cardio, then lift weights.

1:00 - 4:00 Prep. I try recipes, taste other peoples foods, get special projects out of the way, set up my stations prep for the day and help to keep the lunch guy ahead. I usually work the grill, so picking lettuce, slicing tomatoes and onions will eat up some of my time.

4:00 - 4:10 Family meal. We all stop, grab bowls or plates, and dig in. We eat on our feet. We eat quickly. We thank whoever took the time to feed us, then we get back to work. This may be the last time some of us eat for the day.

4:10 - 6:45 Slow and steady. The customers will creep in, as will the orders. There is still time to do prep, plan specials and maybe even make a few ice creams. Then it happens.

6:45 - 9:30 Rush. The ticket machine never stops. Burgers. Steaks. Sandwiches. Specials. It’s intense, it’s hot, it’s a dance on the line. A beautiful thing when everyone is clicking. Time goes by super quickly. If you make a mistake, time seems to stop.

9:30 - 11:00 Preclosing. I’ll usually stay on the line and knock out tickets that come in late. The adrenaline starts to fade, but my mind is still moderately sharp.

11:00 - 11:20 Write in the log. I usually sit at the end of the bar and enjoy my cold shift beer. Probably a house-brewed Vulcan rye IPA. Time to record the days events, let the prep guy know what’s coming in in the morning, what specials sold and overall how things went that night.

11:30 - 11:45 Drive home. This is a good time to listen to some really loud music, preferably the Talking Heads or Fela Kuti.

12:00 - 2:00 Decompress. I sit and catch up with my wife, pet a cat, maybe have a drink. Sometimes I read, other times we watch a few episodes of Louie or Girls.

2:00 Sleep. Try to get a little rest before I go back into the fray.


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