WhoWhatWhenWhereWhy & How...jamie1

Jamie Durrence

Charming is an adjective rarely used to describe someone these days, but it aptly applies to downtown restaurateur Jamie Durrence.  From local farm boy to prize-winning equestrian to New York fashion designer and realtor, Jamie has packed a lot of living in his 32 years.  In 2006, Jamie moved back to Savannah, and for the last year and a half he has been the general manager at the swank eatery Local 11ten.


When I sat down with Jamie in the calm before the onslaught of the usual glittering dinner crowd, he was typically gracious and made a point of complimenting me on my clothes and wristwatch, which says a lot coming from someone with an apparel background.  Jamie’s answers to my questions were candid and unguarded, with a
self-assuredness that lacks arrogance.


Jamie is the first to tell you that what you see is what you get.  He understands the role of image in professional life, but is quick to say that appearance isn’t everything.  He strives to maintain a small family atmosphere in a corporate environment.  Success clearly hasn’t gone to his head…

has had the most influence in your life?

JD – My parents created the ideal environment for me growing up, which wasn’t always easy living on a tobacco farm.  They backed any interests that I had, including my passion for Arabian show horses.  We were up everyday at 6a.m., no sleeping late during the summer, and worked hard all day, but my parents always found the time to support me and my interests.  I taught myself how to show horses while in high school, with no previous experience or influence.  When I bought my first horse, Roxie, for $1500.00, we had no way of knowing that eventually she would take a national show prize. I am a very committed person and my work ethic is based on family values..


André Leon Talley,  the Contributing Editor of Vogue Magazine, also had a major influence on my life.  When I found out that he was in town working with SCAD, I packed up my designs and paid him an unexpected visit.  He was kind enough to look at my work and asked me which designer I would most like to work with.  I told him Carolina Herrera, and I had a call from her the next day offering me a job.  I guess you could say that is typically ‘Jamie style’.


Today, I would say that my mentor is Reed Dulany, my business partner at Local 11ten. He teaches me without stifling my creativity and continually contributes to my personal and professional growth.


What inspires you the most?

JD – Progress inspires me the most.  Tangible things, like architecture, where you can visibly measure progress in the restoration process.  I visited the Biltmore recently, and the architecture re-inspired me to work on my own house. I have been restoring my downtown home for the past four years, and I have done everything, plasterwork, plumbing, woodwork and electricity myself.  I had to learn how to do all of this, but it goes back to my need to constantly move forward, progress and not sit still. I’d like to start my own construction company one day, because I have done it all.


I’m also fascinated by accounting, numbers, entrepreneurship, profit and loss statements.  Reed keeps all of these things together.  I’m very proud
of the success that I’ve had at Local 11ten in the past year and a half.


When did you come out?

JD - When I was twenty-two, my mom came across a card from my boyfriend that I had left laying around.  I had graduated from a private Christian school in a senior class of thirty.  It wasn’t always easy trying to be who I wanted to be in that situation, but my parents were and continue to be supportive.


Where do you see your life today?

JD - I like to say that my life has come full circle…literally.  I was born at the old Candler Telfair hospital just a block over from the restaurant, the house that I’m restoring is just a few blocks east, and my world seems to largely exist within this radius of where I was born.


Why did you leave the hustle-bustle of New York to come back to Savannah?

JD – Basically, I’m traditional in work and relationships.  You have to have commitment in both.  I don’t party a lot.  I lived in New York with my then-boyfriend for two years, working in the fashion industry while studying real estate.  Gradually, my real estate career became the focus.  We both missed home, so I decided to move back to open the Keller-Williams office downtown.  The ironic thing is that even though the romantic relationship didn’t last, we are still great friends and work together here at Local.  That’s another example of how my life has come full circle.


How do you manage to have time for a personal life with your demanding professional schedule?

JD – I always say the quickest way to end a relationship is to move in together too soon.  That is the best advice that I can offer.  I’ve been in a relationship for the past three years, and we still don’t technically live together.  We maintain two separate residences, but typically spend every night together.  We’re both low key and career driven, but our time alone together is just that…our time.


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