All hail our boozers: #2, Junction Tavern


In the second of our new weekly series on popular local pubs, we meet owner Ben McDonald



Ben McDonald:
Ben McDonald: ‘Our level of friendly service sets us apart.’ All photos: © Dan Hall

Firstly, tell us how you got here.
I grew up in Kentish Town so am delighted now to be owning and running one of the most iconic pubs in area. It’s undoubtedly an advantage to know so many residents and characters.

What it’s like running a pub nowadays?
As we are a tied pub with a brewery (which means we pay a lot more for our beer, as we have to buy through them), it can be very challenging; the margins for success are that much finer. Fortunately we have a great reputation for our food and wines.

So, what’s been your best experience in the industry?
I was very proud to run the Crown and Goose in Camden Town for a number of years: many considered this to be the best pub in the area and, in fact, we did get voted this title one year by the King of Camden awards. The pub has since been demolished for more unaffordable flats after we fought for many years, alongside many wonderful residents, to save it.

Men at work: preparing for evening service at the open kitchen. Photo: Dan Hall
Men at work: preparing for evening service at the open kitchen. Photo: Dan Hall

Who are your regulars?
A lovely bunch from many different walks of life, the sign of a good pub really. Going to have to leave it there as most of them will read this, and I don’t want to get in trouble now, do I?

There are loads of pubs in this part of NW5. What do you do that’s different?
There is a level of friendly service we provide that sets us apart. I’ve always believed in offering a very warm welcome to all that walk through our doors, and making all customers feel special and a part of the Junction atmosphere.

Twinkling at night: the conservatory with garden beyond. Photo: Dan Hall
Twinkling at night: the conservatory with garden beyond. Photo: Dan Hall

Tell us a funny story about a customer.
Finding a drunk guy asleep sitting on the toilet wasn’t pleasant, trust me. The only way I could wake him, due to the logistics of the cubicle, was to repeatedly knock him with the door until he stirred. I’d like to point out this was not at the Junction Tavern: here our customers are nothing but the finest.

So is it a bit of a celeb hotspot these days?
Damian Lewis and Charles Dance are two famous faces that have been in recently. I was avidly watching Homeland and Game of Thrones around the same time: it’s always nice to host people you admire.

This is box title
Find the Junction Tavern at 101 Fortess Road, NW5.

Missed last week’s All Hail Our Boozers column? Head here. To read exclusive interviews with ten other local pub owners grab a copy of our February print issue, available free from these pubs, cafes and shops


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