E5 James Connolly – Work-Life Balance & Booze

Back of House, Front of Mind

“Back of House, Front of Mind” is a podcast presented by Healthy Mind Menu, an industry-led initiative that aims to improve the lives and normalise conversations around mental health for those working in the hospitality industry.

Welcome, James Connolly

Join us as we sit down with James Connolly – a highly experienced bartender from Perth, Australia, with an impressive career spanning over 15 years. Throughout this time, he has held various roles in the hospitality industry, primarily focused on bars, including running small establishments like El Publico, Defectors, and Enrique’s, as well as more significant venues such as Long Chim and the Ark Group. 
This year James is opening his own wine bar in Bassendean, Bertie. The new venue represents a significant milestone in his career and offers him the opportunity to showcase his creativity and passion for hospitality in a new setting. 
Over the years, James has gained a wealth of knowledge and expertise in the bar industry, winning competitions and developing a reputation as a highly-skilled bartender. However, he also recognises the challenges that come with being surrounded by alcohol and has learned the importance of maintaining a healthy and respectful relationship with alcohol.

What is your current Occupation? Tell us how you spend your days.

I a currently a Bartender, Venue Manager & Beverage Consultant. I’ve been working in hospitality for 15 years in Australia, primarily in bar-focused roles in everything from fine dining, cocktail bars, and wine bars

Tell us more about your experience in hospitality.

I started as a bar back at Must Wine Bar in 2007, and from there I have had various roles across the industry from Head bartender, and bar manager to beverage manager.

Explain the reasons why mental well-being has become important to you.

Being surrounded by alcohol all the time is a challenge, having a healthy and respectful relationship with alcohol is something that can easily be a problem. something I have learned the hard way over a prolonged period.

How do you handle stress, negative thoughts, and emotions?

Lots of deep breathing. Handling stress is something I have learned to deal with over time. It takes practice and patience. When you have done as many hours in service as I have getting stressed or negative is unhelpful to everyone, especially yourself. 

How do you prioritise self-care and balance it with other responsibilities in your life? Work-life balance. (Sleep, nutrition, connectedness, physical activity, downtime)

For a long time, being a bartender was not only my job but also my hobby and some degree my personality. You need things outside of work to focus on otherwise you will easily be consumed. Work to live not live to work. 

Can you tell us about a person who has had a significant impact on your life? 

There is one book I recommend to anyone who is trying to create a better version of themselves – “Cant Hurt Me” by David Goggins. We are all capable of incredible physical achievements, you just have to realise that the only person stopping you is you.

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Let’s make sure mental health is always on the menu!

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