My Ottawa: Stephen Beckta’s taste for local restos and why he misses Harley Finkelstein

Stephen Beckta
Stephen Beckta is the owner and operator at Beckta, Play Food & Wine and Gezellig. Photo provided
Editor's Note

My Ottawa is an occasional column where we ask local business personalities about their life in the nation’s capital and what they like most about the city.

Well-known local restaurateur and community leader Stephen Beckta is a familiar name around town — and not just because he shares a name with one of his restaurants.

As the owner of Gezellig, Beckta Dining & Wine, and Play Food & Wine, Beckta has been serving the fine dining tastes of Ottawans since 2003. He also supports the community as a longtime member of the BGC (Boys and Girls Club) Ottawa board of directors. 

With an appreciation for good food, good wine and even better company, Beckta is a proud Ottawan. In this instalment of My Ottawa, Beckta lets us in on his favourite places to eat (not including his own establishments), his go-to skiing spot and his “eclectic” choice in musicians.

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What area of the city/region do you live in?


What type of home do you have (condo, house, etc.)?

A house built in 1915, renovated completely 10 years ago.

What type of pet do you have?

We had a cat that sadly passed away last year. Thinking about another!

What type of car do you drive?

Audi S5 manual transmission (last year it was available in Canada).

What’s your favourite part of town?

Centretown, where I grew up (Elgin Street, specifically).

What is your favourite place to eat in Ottawa?

There are so many. Town, North & Navy, Fraser Cafe, Bar Lupulus, Stofa, Thali, to name a few.

What is your favourite activity in Ottawa?

Skiing at Mont Ste-Marie.

What’s your favourite hobby?

Yoga three to four times per week.

What’s your favourite local charity or cause?

BGCO (Boys and Girls Club of Ottawa). I’ve been on the board for 13 years now.

What’s your favourite festival?

Ottawa Jazz Festival, CityFolk Festival, Bluesfest in that order.

If you were to play tour guide for a first-time visitor to Ottawa for a day, where would you take them?

ByWard Market, Parliament Hill, Canadian Museum of Nature, local restaurants, Gatineau hills, Rideau Canal.

What’s your favourite retailer in Ottawa?

Westboro and Lansdowne farmers’ markets (if that counts).

What’s your favourite live music or entertainment venue?

Bronson Centre.

What type of music do you listen to?

Very eclectic mix. From Thievery Corporation to Lane 8 to The Tragically Hip to Miles Davis.

Where do you get your hair cut?

With Katharyn Humble at Salon Bliss on Bank Street.

What do you think is unique about Ottawa’s culinary scene?

It’s such a tight community. They always support one another.  

What’s your favourite weekend outing to do with family or friends?

Skiing, cooking at home for others, paintball with my son, fishing, trying new things.

What Ottawa personality, past or present, do you admire?

Harley Finkelstein, president of Shopify. Ottawa is far less dynamic since he moved to Montreal last year.  

If you took a staycation in Ottawa, what would you do?

Exploring new parts of town with my wife, visiting farmers’ markets, cooking great meals, visiting art galleries and museums, fly fishing in the Ottawa River, a lot more biking and hiking around town.

What’s your favourite business event or conference in Ottawa?

Boys and Girls Club Glamping Gala (coming up Aug. 29!).

What’s your favourite thing to do in Ottawa to pamper yourself?

Massage by Krista at Align Massage in Beechwood.

What local business or attraction do you think is one of Ottawa’s best-kept secrets?

Pick your own veggies and fruit at Rideau Pines Farm and Market, paintball at Marked Ultimate Family Adventure Park in Carleton Place.  

What’s your favourite season to spend in Ottawa?

The fall is so beautiful, but the spring is full of hope and new beginnings.

What’s your favourite thing about Ottawa?

The perfect mix of small-town warmth with big-city culture.  

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