My Hampstead: Gastro pub pioneer Beth Coventry celebrates 10 years at The Wells Tavern
- Credit: Polly Hancock
Beth Coventry has had a long career in the restaurant trade and opened one of London’s first gastro pubs in the 1990s. Ten years ago she became proprietor of The Wells Tavern in Hampstead. She lives in Primrose Hill and is the sister of food critic Fay Maschler.
What brought you to Hampstead? I moved into my mother’s flat, magically situated right on Primrose Hill in the early 1990s. In 2002 my then business partner, Tom Etridge, and I were offered the chance by the pub company Innspired to make The Wells into their flagship pub.
This was a unique opportunity which we seized – mostly because it is such a lovely building, but in a large part because they were very generous with funds for the refurbishment! Living in Primrose Hill and working in Hampstead – the best possible combination.
What is your favourite thing about the area? Hampstead is exceptionally beautiful and rarefied but it still has the feel of a village. I love the architecture, the gardens, the Heath, the blessing of the fresh air, the steep streets and the look of contentment on the faces of the people chivvying their children, walking their dogs or, what is more likely, hanging out in cafés eating cakes.
What is the worst? The number of estate agents and mobile phone shops.
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You have £100 to blow, what would you do? It would be in Livingstone Studio. My favourite shop. But I might have to add a few quid!
What makes you smile on the way home? Meeting a regular customer who praises The Wells, usually for both the food and the staff.
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How would you spend your perfect Sunday? Lunch with friends. Probably not at The Wells as it is frantic on Sunday. And then an afternoon movie at the Everyman cinema which is one of my-not-so secret indulgences.
What tips do you have for people moving to the area? Get a dog. Walk everywhere. Have coffee and cake at Gail’s. Visit Burgh House, Fenton House, Keats’ House and go to a concert at Kenwood House.
Where in the world would you twin with Hampstead? Montmartre in Paris. No greenery but same steep streets and special contained village atmosphere within a major amazing city. More artists on the streets in Montmartre but quite a few to be found in Hampstead!
If you had to write your own epitaph, what would it say? If it would be for tomorrow it would be ‘Thank you’.