A Week In The Life Of…. A Venue Operator, John O’Brien

Workers Club MANAGEMENT (1)

Job Description

As a venue owner, John O’Brien spends a lot of his days in meetings and onsite at his two venues, The Workers Club Melbourne and the soon to be open, Workers Club Geelong. At the present time, he is living in Geelong and most of his time is dedicated to the management of the renovation and preparation for the opening date on March 21st, 2015. He is responsible for a lot of the behind the scenes and is busy managing social media, press releases and organising the day to day running of the venue along with his business partners. There is a lot of networking involved in owning a venue and constantly trying to stay ahead of the game when it comes to food concepts, bands, events and functions and promotion.

Day 1

Meeting with general manager onsite at the Geelong venue, which is still undergoing renovation. We discuss the beer system and meet with the supplier who is due to install our post mix. The concrete tradesmen are in grinding and polishing the floor and we find an issue with some drainage under the concrete slabs. Following our consultation with the tradies, we go and grab a coffee and discuss our beer selection for the venue. We are wanting to support independent, craft breweries and are very excited by the range our general manager proposes. A visit to the police station to introduce myself to liquor licensing before racing home and getting ready to head to Sydney for the Rolling Stone Awards.

Day 2

Spend most of the day working on my computer in the hotel lobby in Sydney. I am busy working on a q and a for an online blog and in close consultation with our food dude for Workers Club Geelong.  I have a long conversation with their publicist who is wanting to officially announce their partnership with Workers Geelong and we work out a few nuances before the press release is ready to go out the following week. I get a quick run around Hyde Park before getting ready for the awards and heading to the Foxtel Studios. The Rolling Stone Awards are awesome and we listen to a set from Remi and The Delta Riggs before getting a haircut from the guys at Upper Deluxe and catching up with an old friend who is now a Triple J drive time presenter. Have a good chat with Rolling Stones legend, Amy Gates who organised the pop up event at the Workers Club Melbourne in 2014, that saw us host 3 weeks of live music, which included the likes of Slash, Lanie Lane, Kasey Chambers and Husky.  The boys from the Workers Club, Melbourne continue to party well into the night on Oxford Street but I head home by12.30am and fast asleep by 1am.

Day 3

Early morning run around Sydney and a catch up with an old friend who works for Uber. We discuss a sponsorship deal for later in the year for a Workers Club Geelong Pop Up Event and he explains how this would benefit the venue. Call my business partner to catch up on the latest renovation developments and we have a lengthy phone call, which is a common daily occurrence.  A full day of travel is on the cards as I make my way back to Melbourne.

Day 4

Head into the Workers Club Melbourne to do a few errands and then back to Geelong. Onsite to find the dividing band wall is starting to take shape and the place is teeming with tradies who are seeing to the electrics and the plumbing. Afternoon run along the river and back for a long meeting with business partner, which goes well into the early evening. We discuss everything from suppliers through to deadlines. By 6pm, the day is nearly done and its home to check on emails.

Day 5

Head onsite to see how everything is coming along and work from an office space in Geelong for the duration of the day. We are busy putting together invitations for our soft launch and working out the finer details for the opening night in question. There will be food, music and beer but we need to make sure we are ready to open in time first and foremost. The day is spent constantly on the phone and back and forth on emails. There are a million things to be done and never a dull moment.

Day 6

Off to Melbourne for a management meeting for Workers Club. We discuss the week just gone, upcoming band bookings and the kitchen performance. The meeting goes for around an hour and I then head into our office space in Melbourne where I will work for the day. We are looking at planning some pop up events for the Geelong venue later in the year and this requires plenty of introductions over the phone and on email.


Plenty of highlights; getting to meet heaps of interesting and quirky people, seeing your inspiration and ideas come into full fruition, watching amazing bands play in your venue and the satisfaction of the punters there to see them, working with driven and motivated individuals on a daily basis, industry events and the thrill of being the master of your own destiny.


And the lowlights: long hours, the stress of timelines, especially when you are renovating a venue and need to be open by a certain date, red tape and council bureaucracy and the great unknown of running your own venues in a day and age where it ain’t that easy.

Words of wisdom: If you do what you love, you will never work a day in your life. You have to truly be passionate to work in the music and hospitality industries. It is never a walk in the park and there are plenty of obstacles but it sure beats being in an office all day. Follow your heart and not your head, be smart but don’t conform if it won’t make you happy.


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