Manager at Hampstead restaurant speaks about her passion for wine and living above the office
- Credit: Nigel Sutton
Many people want to forget about their jobs the moment home time arrives – so living above the office is probably not their ideal arrangement.
But for Aby Scott, general manager at The Old White Bear restaurant, there are very few downsides – even if she cannot leave her front door without bumping into colleagues and customers.
“Because it’s Hampstead, I love it,” she said. “I’ve lived in London for 19 years and this is the first time I’ve really felt like I have neighbours who look out for you. You are sort of always on duty, and because you know most of the customers, you can’t walk home without having to stop and chat to people. But it’s as much a perk as a drawback.”
She added: “I can try to sneak in the back door if I’m not in the mood to chat to people – but that never happens.”
Ms Scott has been at the helm of The Old White Bear, in Well Road, since it was transformed from an old-fashioned pub into a modern restaurant in 2010.
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It was still named Ye Olde White Bear when restaurateur Jasper Gorst took it over and turned the place into a “modern European” eaterie, his second venture after The Oak in Notting Hill.
Ms Scott, 37, was made responsible for the day-to-day running and moved into the flat upstairs. “I’d worked for Jasper on and off for 10 years,” she said.
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“He asked me to come back and open The Bear. It was a proper old boozer and we’ve turned it into a restaurant mainly focusing on wine, good quality food and service.”
Ms Scott entered the restaurant trade after starting out at art college, following a well-trodden path into the service industry.
“I moved to London to study,” she said. “I was an art student and I started working in a restaurant in Mayfair to supplement my student income. I was quickly promoted to manager, and then I got stuck really.”
Nowadays, she ploughs her creative energies into her passion for wine. “Our restaurant is very wine focused,” she explained. “My artistic outlet now is creating the wine lists and having fun there: people coming in and showing me wine, and drinking my way through lots of samples to come up with perfect list!”
The Bear helped to organise a street party to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee last summer, which Ms Scott counts as her best day in the job so far.
She added: “The best thing about the job is the people you meet – and that no day is the same. You always have people who are difficult of course, but I find in Hampstead we have a lovely customer base.”
n The Old White Bear is a member of the Hampstead NW3 Business Association. To find out more about the organisation and what it does, email firstname.lastname@example.org, visit www.nw3hampstead.com, or follow @NW_3Hampstead on Twitter.