Matt Lovell and Rob Hampton, the restaurateurs behind The Oystermen, have ventured into wine retail with the launch of Bedford Street Wines in Covent Garden.
Plumpton graduate Alex Prymaka (pictured far right) is the general manager of the shop and has been involved with the project since the beginning.
“We wanted to open in December last year,” she says, “but Westminster Council, as lovely as they are, took their sweet time to get the licence through. It’s given me plenty of time to work on the wine list and that’s been really fun.”
Prymaka has also been working with the team converting the premises and was delighted that behind the “drab décor” there were some original features to uncover, including some “lovely high ceilings and an amazing wooden floor, under layers and layers of hardboard”.
The wine shop will be completely separate from the restaurants, with its own identity and dedicated staff, all with formal wine qualifications.
“We’re going to have a big English wine focus,” Prymaka explains. “I got my master’s at Plumpton, my assistant manager has a BSc from Plumpton in wine business and a lot of our friends are old Plumptonians.
“We feel that while English wine is well represented in the countryside, that is not the case in London. There is definitely a conversation to be had to promote English wine. We’re in Covent Garden so there are lots of tourists, it’s very international so I think the opportunity is there.
“We also have wines from all over the world. We have a whole range from Liberty and we’ve taken some natural wines from Les Caves de Pyrene and from Ben Slater at 266 Wine. He imports a lot organic and biodynamic wines that are really good.
“I’ve got a friend who’s a nomadic winemaker and we’re going to have some of his wines – we want to work with great people who do amazing things.”
The shop has space for around 10 customers to drink in, but the main focus is retail and e-commerce. Local deliveries will be fulfilled by Deliveroo and Zedify, a company that uses electric bikes.