20 questions : Nev from Artichoke

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  1. How are you ? Pretty content in life. I have a wonderful missus, great friends and good health. With so many people struggling in so many ways across the world I feel very fortunate. Hanging on to my 40s by my fingernails! 
  1. What’s going on at Artichoke at the moment ?Having now been going for 11 years Artichoke kinda just is. We have adapted and changed over that time but never anything radical. Our aim has always been to be a friendly all round neighbourhood venue. Whether that’s a coffee, a stronger drink or food. 
  1. Compared to when you took over how has the canal side area changed / improved ? Wow! Yes! There was just wasteland beyond us! Now more flats, Waitrose and the new hotel. The area feels more complete. The Canal Quarter has great hospitality venues such as Harkers, the cellar, Siam, 3 or 4 Indian restaurants.  
  1. Favourite place to visit in the borough ? Grey and Pink records on brook street. 
  1. What do you think Chester does well ? The food and drink options I think punch way above given Chester’s modest size. 
  1. What could Chester do better ? There’s a tendency to be “small c” conservative, where maybe being braver and little more radical about big and small decisions would be for the better. 
  1. What would you sing on karaoke night ? Last time I was in a karaoke venue was in a fantastically flamboyant bar in Soho last birthday. Had a great time with the regulars! Me singing though?? Im far too shy. 
  1. If you could time travel, where/when would you go ? Post war new York jazz scene.. Charlie parker, Miles Davis, Coltraine, Thelonious monk. My dream.  
  1. Which person living or dead would you take for an independent coffee or drink ? Chaka khan – I bet she’s such a laugh.. go for coffee and end up in Rosie’s. or maybe TLC?  
  1. What was the last film you saw and was it any good ? Horror Express on bbc iplayer. Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee. An extra terrestrial entity in the form of a frozen fossil ape is onboard the trans-Siberian railway. Surprisingly enjoyable given the above! 
  1. Who or what inspired you in your life ? The Pet shop boys! their music especially lyrics created images, aspirations and ideas that weren’t the rainy ‘80s council estate I grew up on.. They were of something other. Our company is called Being Boring ltd ( T/A Artichoke) , named after one of their songs. I will always have boundless admiration for my mother and grandma. 
  1. How have you stayed sane during the last 2 years of madness ? Borrowed as much money as we could and refused to worry about it. It’s the next two / three years as we start paying it back that will test my nerve. 
  1. Who would play you in a movie of your life? In my head I’m Starsky, in reality I’m a rubbish version of captain Dobey. So sadly, more likely Bernard Hamilton and less likely Paul michael Glaser. 
  1. Do we need more hotels ? Yes. More hotels brings more vibrancy. I find it odd when people say we have enough. How would you know? Surely, if you live in chester you aren’t booking many hotels here? More housing in the city centre is even more important. 
  1. Name a famous person you have met You get to meet a few in my line of trade. My favourite famous regulars through the years though are – Jason orange, tony Wilson and ( sorry little oak chris) mr ian rush. 
  1. What do you do to relax ? Gardening, love it. I play online chess but that is more stress than relaxing hobby. Mainly, found most happy with a pint or a good bottle of wine with friends and/or the missus. 
  1. How does running Artichoke compare with Paysan/gnome ? Like chalk and cheese. Artichoke has such a variety of roles to fulfil. Whereas, paysan just worries about wine. Cavern of the curious gnome just worries about beer. All of them are challenging in their different ways but what is the same and important throughout is the staff. Whether that’s the kitchen (headed up by Rob my business partner), the wine nerds, the beer dweebs, the cocktail kids, the floor staff, the fantastically oddbod back of house team ( headed up by Thor and India) – everyone matters. 
  1. Describe your perfect day ? So many different perfect days. Sitting outside artichoke on a summers day with friends drinking fancy German lager out of a frozen glass, watching the world float by as the sun goes down is one of them. Nearly all perfect days involve great quality booze and a small group of friends and/or loved ones. 
  1. If you could bring back one extinct Chester business who would it be ? Nisbets. It was so handy having them around the corner. 
  1. How do you feel about the future ? I genuinely believe the *older generations have screwed this country for the youth. They have sold young folks’ freedoms, their opportunities, their ambitions, their inherited planet down the swanny for a bag full of their own hate. A sack of jingoism, unquantifiable “sovereignty”, racism, homophobia, greed and arrogance. That said, where hope and love live there is a chance.  

*not everyone but as a generalisation. 

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