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The Interview: Jorge Fernandez and Rick Wells, Proprietors, Fernandez and Wells, Soho, London

Published:  23 July, 2008

Jorge Fernandez, a Londoner of Spanish parentage, has spent most of his career conceptualising and running coffee bars. He opened the Caf at Foyles, which his wife now runs, and for several years was the general manager at the Monmouth Coffee Company. Rick Wells was born in Zimbabwe, where he lived until he was 10. He has spent his career to date reporting on Africa for the BBC, and a few years ago, pursuing his passion for wine, he started a small business sourcing and importing wines for friends. A regular Monmouth customer, Wells got to know Fernandez and realised that both dreamed of opening up a shop. Fernandez and Wells, a deli-cum-wine shop focusing on wine, cheese and cured meat from France, Italy and Spain, opened in January, and a new venue specialising in coffee, cake and chocolate will open later this year. Some wines are specially sourced by Wells, others are supplied by John Armit and Enotria .

JF: News of this place has spread like wildfire by word of mouth alone. A lot of people have welcomed the simplicity. On more than one occasion people have said, Don't change this place. Don't clutter it.' Nobody has actually said it is too spartan, but my experience with English people is that if they are unhappy about something, they tend not to go back, whereas on the Continent they will rant and rave about it and tell you very directly and expect you to remedy it. Anyway, it's not something I am going to want to change because it is a concept I believe in. You can't please all of the people all of the time, and I wouldn't want to.