Justinn De Beer: ‘I love that buzz, ushering my builders out the back door and my customers in the front door.’

He began his career in his native South Africa, before travelling abroad and ending up working in Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley for seven years, with two and a half years in the CBD leading the opening crew of Brooklyn Standard. Now, Justinn De Beer is leading the charge of new Valley venue, The Palace Supper Club. He’s also someone who exemplifies hospitality — as he says, it’s in his blood.

As told to Sam Bygrave

Hospitality has always been in my blood. The way I got into it was my dad’s friend owned a bar when I finished school. I went in there and loved every second of it — it was back in the day when I would serve with a cigarette hanging out of my mouth and a drink in my hand and say, ‘what the fuck are you drinking mate?’

It was an American diner, but it had three bars at the back of it. At midnight, YMCA, everyone would jump on the counters, liquor licences at the time in South Africa were until 2am. But it was legal to have Irish Coffees. So all the clubs would close, and the diner would just get full until six or seven in the morning. You could order it Irish, Mexican, whatever as long as there was coffee in it. This is way before the Espresso Martini.


I fell into it like that and that’s all I’ve ever done, in the 22 years of my working life the only time I haven’t worked in hospitality was one year teaching English in Taiwan.

I’m very social — much to my girlfriend’s detriment. I just love being surrounded by people, I’ve got way too much party left in me. I truly love what I do. I love being a part of a concept, getting a place open, and I love that buzz, ushering my builders out the back door and my customers in the front door. At Laruche we were gluing the carpet down while people were walking in the front door, thinking how is this going to last the night?

There’s even times, when I worked at Laruche, at two or three in the morning and the downstairs is rocking and full and just party-party, and I walk down those stairs and see all these people for whom I have created a fun night for. There’s times when I get little goosebumps up my spine, and think, this is what I do.

There was one period when I thought I wanted to become a photographer, and I studied that in London — but I think that being a photographer would be quite a lonely job. I went back to hospitality. There’s all the camaraderie between hospo people — why do we give up every weekend of our lives? To make sure other people are having fun. That’s why I think hospos and the crew they work with are so tight.

I’m much more of the belief that I kill my staff with kindness, instead of kill them — you get a lot more out of people. But if I do go off at anyone, and I have — run, people, run.

I’m always hosting. I think it’s definitely a personality trait — you can definitely teach it, but if it’s taught I think it comes over as too contrived. You got to love what you do. I love what I do, and that makes it easy.

In Brisbane, the biggest challenge we have is finding good staff. It’s hard to find good staff when you open a new venue. Brisbane is growing fast, there’s three, four other places in the process of opening at the moment.

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