Hector’s has now fully opened in De Beauvoir, a residential neighbourhood that “fits snugly between Hackney and Islington,” according to owner Jimmy Stephenson.
He initially planned to open the bottle shop and the accompanying bar at the same time. But when the lifting of hospitality restrictions was delayed by a month, he went ahead with the shop launch in June and the bar element followed a few weeks later.
Stephenson, previously at upmarket Hackney butcher and restaurant Hill & Szrok, launched Hector’s with the backing Hill & Szrok’s owner Luca Mathiszig-Lee. He’ll be operating the business with the help of his wife Anna and her younger brother Josh, who is currently studying for his WSET Level 2.
“The industry is really struggling at the moment for staff,” reports Stephenson. “At Hill & Szrok we put people through the apprenticeship scheme. If you can find youngish people who are happy to learn, it’s a great way to employ and train people.
“Hopefully they stick it out and really enjoy it. The majority of them really go for it. I want to do a similar thing here with Josh, but with wine, and hopefully he will fall in love with it.”
Stephenson is working with suppliers including Vine Trail, Passione e Vino and Tuto. He says: “My style of wine is definitely influenced by a lot of natural and low-intervention winemaking but not dogmatically so. There’s definitely some more conventional and traditional stuff in there.”
Customers will be able to choose anything from the shelves to drink in or take away but there will also be a wine list. “It’s really nice to be able to talk through every single bottle that we have in the shop but that can be time consuming and overwhelming, so we do have a wine list for people to choose from when drinking in,” explains Stephenson.
“It’s nice to give people a list as a starting point, too, so they can see the prices and maybe pick out an appellation they know and we can take it from there. If they want to push it further and ask if we’ve got anything special open, that’s great. We want to make this place really special and for it to be part of the community for a long time to come.”