To-do lists, podcasts, power tools: Jamie Fleming shares a day in the life of building Alba Bar & Deli

Jamie Fleming at the still-under-construction Alba Bar & Deli.

After years as a brand ambassador, chef, and bartender, Jamie Fleming (whom, yes you may have seen him on a certain competitive cooking show back in 2014) is getting closer to opening his first bar, Alba Bar & Deli, in Brisbane later this month.

The bar combines Fleming’s skills both behind the bar and in the kitchen, giving food and drink equal billing, and will be opening next door to Death & Taxes on Burnett Lane in the Brisbane CBD. “Essentially the key driving idea from me is three of my favourite things,” says Fleming. “Sherry, jamon and hip hop.”

That’s something we can get behind. And we won’t have to wait much longer, he says, with construction and menu tastings and planning underway right now.

This being Fleming’s first foray into venue ownership, we wanted to get a handle on what a typical day during the opening phase throws up for him — and thankfully, Fleming was keen to share his experience. So below, lightly edited for clarity, is a typical day in the life of Fleming as he opens Alba Bar & Deli.

6am: Wake up. This is a lot earlier than it has been almost ever, but it’s important for me at the moment to give myself some time. I get ready and go to the gym which has become a really important part of my routine. It helps clear my head and allows me to focus on something that is totally out of my comfort zone. It does wonders for my mental health.

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8am: Coffee at home with a light snack as I check my emails and answer anything urgent. There is normally at least one thing through from one of the tradies that needs some attention. I will normally give them a run down of when I will be on site also.

9am-11:30am: First meetings with suppliers. Today was crockery and finalising all of the orders to be stored. Yesterday was wine. Each day is pretty dynamic but I like to have my meetings start at this time. My mind is fresh and I can really think about what it is exactly that I am looking for.

Midday – 1pm: Have a quick lunch while I go through some of the notes I have made from the morning meetings. Today also involves writing this so chuck a little extra on for that. Any discounts agreed get recorded and the costings sheet gets updated. More coffee and more emails normally follow.

1:30 – 3pm: Back onsite on the phone while I do something mundane. Pretty much anything that needs to be done that I can do. I’m about as far from handy as you can get (although the power tools aisle is still my favourite at Bunnings) so whatever my builders need done where I won’t hurt anyone is the go. It generally goes at a pretty average pace because the phone calls don’t stop.

3:30pm – 5pm: Tradies will normally be packing up and heading off by now. I will finish up anything I can before I sit down and go through my to do lists. These have become vital because I can only really remember the top six or seven things I need to do.

There are a lot more than six or seven things to do.

5pm: Head toward home. I will normally stop off at a local and have a beer while I troll through images trying to find certain finishes or different ways to do things. Instagram, some art sites and other restaurants and bars are always great to take inspiration from. This is a little bit of a wind down even though the night is far from over.

7pm: Have dinner with my girlfriend and try to keep the work chat to a minimum. Like the gym, this provides a little escape from constantly thinking and stressing. I try to cook as much as I can as another little escape.

8:30pm – 11:30pm: I throw on a podcast and go through costings and see where I can potentially make some savings. Podcasts have become my vice in this process. Particularly when it comes to data entries for costings or writing employment packs. Anyone who has done this in a managerial role knows what I’m talking about. Starting from scratch on an employment pack and Code of Conduct is a massive pain but for me starting a new company, it’s super important that I am transparent about my expectations. Alba is going to be a pretty interesting place to work and the emphasis on quality of service is vital. This also pretty much puts me to sleep.

11:30pm: Sleep. Well, try to. Your mind races over little finishes or whether you will have your license ready. Its super frustrating when you have no control over certain things and are playing the waiting game. I have been pretty lucky with my run into opening but there is always something. I have learnt a huge amount already and still going every day.

Alba Bar & Deli is set to open later this month on Burnett Lane in the Brisbane CBD — follow their progress on Instagram here at @albabaranddeli.

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