From Russia to Beer with love
- Credit: Archant
The owner of Beer’s newest business left a life of Russian luxury to settle down with his family – but he wants to bring some of that vibrancy to the village.
James Absalom hopes Osborne’s Coffee and Wine Bar will become a hub for tourists and locals alike, boosting the high street and restoring its status as a year-round destination.
He created one of Russia’s best-loved, most lavish restaurants – popular with everyone from A-list celebrities to President Putin himself – but has left all that behind to give his daughter a British education.
“It’s so stressful there – we had to decide if it was worth it,” said the 50-year-old.
“When I told everyone I was leaving Moscow they thought I was mad, but coming to Beer, it is so beautiful, people are so friendly, we love it.
“Now I wake up every morning and see the sea.”
He made his fortune as a landscape architect in Russia when the job did not even exist – when wheelbarrows had to be imported, washers improvised and second-hand nails straightened and reused.
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Muscovites in the post-Soviet era aspired for spaces of their own, and seeing the opportunity, James closed his company in the UK and seized it.
His business grew and on one of the lakes he built, he then put up Chester Ferry Restaurant, a massive fine-dining eatery and pub.
The father of one always shied away from the media spotlight, though, not wanting his fame to put his family at risk.
But he and wife Olga left all that behind when Sophie was born, and they found Beer.
They moved to the village to give their daughter, now five, a British education, and to escape their hectic, stressful lifestyle.
James arrived with a vision of delivering a boost to the village, attracting tourists year-round with a coffee and wine bar to complement the existing businesses and benefit everyone.
“We didn’t know what to expect,” he said. “We hoped it would be busy, but it’s been absolutely chocker. The village has welcomed us with open arms.”
Before James took over the former menswear shop there had been plans to convert it into two houses, but he said people were begging him to do something different with it, so he bought the premises.
“Beer residents didn’t want to lose any more shops – once they’re gone, they’re gone,” he added.
“We understand it’s hard keeping shops open, but as long as it pays the staff’s wages and we get a return, we’re happy with that.”
Osborne’s is run by Adam Hughes and Laura Dyson-Jones and is now open in the evening.
James thanked the village and the parish and district councils for their support.