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He traded in his small empire of bars and clubs in the West End for a butcher’s shop in Hampstead, but Philip Matthews is still pulling in an all-star crowd.

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After 25 years running a string of swanky cocktail bars and restaurants in Covent Garden, Mr Matthews packed up for the good life in Hampstead Village where as a boy he remembered there was never a shortage of a good leg of lamb or hunk of ham, with no less than seven butchers selling their wares in the village.

However, when the 49-year-old arrived he discovered that the last butcher standing in a shop in Flask Walk was a 73-year-old who was preparing to emigrate to Australia.

In May 2010, out of a need for good meat for a Sunday roast, Mr Matthews set up The Hampstead Butcher – or a “butcher’s plus” as he likes to call it – in Rosslyn Hill.

“Part of the old village vibe was to buy good quality produce in Hampstead, and it seemed to have everything else apart from a butcher,” said the former owner of The Rock Garden cafe in Covent Garden.

“But I mulled it over for a while and came up with the idea of a place where you could get everything for your meal in one shop like your herbs, oils and gravy.”

Though meat is half of the Hampstead Butcher business, the fromagerie, charcuterie and selection of wines helps to pull in the likes of actresses Helena Bonham Carter and Emma Thompson, plus comedians Ricky Gervais and James Corden, who Mr Matthews counts among his regulars.

The father-of-two, who lives in New End, Hampstead, with wife Mia, also brought in ‘foodie’ Guy Bossom, former executive head chef at the Royal Opera House, to lead his team of 12 with the aim of becoming a ‘one-stop shop’ for the great and the good of Hampstead.

A supporter of traders’ group NW3 from its inception, Mr Matthews has strong views on business in the area. He insists that everyone, from independents to mega-chains, has their place in Hampstead High Street.

The butcher, who gets his meat from farms in Sussex and Norfolk, said: “There is a great demand for retail mix on the high street, but that doesn’t mean you can get away with poor quality and high prices as an independent trader. We have to offer value, whether that be quality or prices.”

n The first Ham&High of each month will feature an interview with an independent shopkeeper who is a member of the NW3 Hampstead Business Association. To find out more about the association, email info@nw3hampstead.com, visit www.nw3hampstead.com, or follow them on Twitter at @NW_3Hampstead

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