For the fifth and final installment in my Spirited Pride series of conversations with talented LGBTQ champs in the craft cocktail world, I spoke with someone who has to be on the hardest working men in show business, Alex Day of Proprietors LLC. I'll let Alex explain for himself what this powerhouse team does.
JR: How are you doing?
AD: Doing good, little busy these days.
JR: You, or everyone now?
AD: Maybe for everyone, let's go there
JR: I think there generally is an air of over-busy-ness in culture right now.
Tell me what you're workin on and why you're so busy
AD: Well, our companies kind of interesting in that it does a lot of different things. The overarching thing is overseeing the properties we own and operate, and in Los Angeles that's Honeycut, The Normandie Club, The Walker Inn, and in New York there’s Death & Co. and Nitecap [Ed. note--Nitecap is about to open at its new location at 151 Rivington].
A good part of my day is taken up with trying to assist our management teams on anything they are working on – head bartenders working on new menus, integrating new technologies into their work, coordination on design stuff for equipment or new menus, trying to wrangle our operation into some semblance of order, PR conversations, all that kind of stuff. All the mechanisms to get a business to run, and to keep it on track.
And then we have a number of consulting projects, some more well known than others. For instance we're working with Chef Alain Ducasse on Skyfall and RIVEA in Las Vegas and we've collaborating with them for a little over a year, and that's been amazing and a very visual collaboration.
And a new project that's just opened on the top of the US Bank Tower Building, 71 Above, where my colleague Devon Tarby is training the staff right now, opening any day now.
Then we have other projects that aren’t very well known, mostly me designing bars for people, so doing a lot if infrastructure designs, laying out the equipment, and essentially trying to get more bars our there that are designed by a bartender and not a kitchen consultant who has no idea what a bar is these days.
JR: Wow, that is a lot.
AD: Oh! And we're writing another book-so there's that too
JR: Another Death & Co book?
AD: It is not..it's a more generalized book, it's with the same publisher...that's about all I can say about it right now.
JR: So what kind of advice or counsel would you be giving to a younger version of yourself, or someone looking to get into the industry in a big way.
AD: I think it's important to note that there's a certain amount of ADHD both in myself and my business partners, which goes a long ways in explaining why we do a lot of what we do
The biggest challenge over the past many years has been trying to navigate our desire to do more with being able to fulfil our obligations. We’ve committed to a ton and are responsible to a lot of people. It’s hard to keep up and we do to varying degrees of success.
So it has certainly been a very big struggle, trying to balance being present for our existing properties while pursuing some of these new opportunities, and that's the thing, there are always new opportunities, and we're in the incredibly privileged position where we have new opportunities come our way. If I were answering this question five years ago I would be saying we were doing a terrible job, constantly scraping after obligations and trying to react as opposed to being proactive to challenges that arise.
I would say within the past year we've found some ways of dividing some of the responsibilities within our organization and empowering people on the local venue level to make decisions because we trust them, and because we're hiring better than we ever did in the past. Or at least that’s our ambition. More work in progress.
And then on more of a personal level, we had to define what balance was for each of us. It was a big step for me to say a couple years ago that while I love being on a plane going off to some exotic place on a project there is a big part of me that crave some personal stability and really stating that for myself and for my business partners really allowed a chance to step back and say, this is what I can do, and this is what I'm willing to do for my profession, and I'm not going to sacrifice my health or happiness for anything. Dipping into my mid-thirties and having that sort of wisdom moment was more important me for anything else.
It's great to be ambitious, but that life/work balance is even more important. I think there's thing that are specific to this industry that are tricky in terms of that balance One of them is the outward appearance of business, like this conversation you and I are having, or Facebook. And the difference between that and actually being good at what you do. And I struggle with that myself
So, there's something to be said for having an inner conversation and saying, what am I truly capable of, and what am I telling people I'm capable of, cause those are two very different things.