Above: Jacob Kenedy outside the Prince of Wales. Below: how the popular pub used to look
Published: 12 August, 2016
by KOOS COUVÉE
A TOP chef who came across a closed-down pub near Angel which was threatened with redevelopment has saved the well-loved boozer.
The Prince of Wales, located on the banks of Regent’s Canal, and a favourite with locals and canal folk, looked set to be converted into luxury flats after it was closed down in 2014.
However, the pub on the corner of Sudeley Street and Vincent Terrace was saved after Jacob Kenedy, who co-owns two popular Italian restaurants in the West End, discovered it by chance as he was walking along the canal looking for a place to live.
Mr Kenedy, who was born a stone’s throw away in Noel Road, enquired about the three-storey 1930s building, eventually managed to buy it for £2.3million, and has decided to revive the pub.
“I was looking for a place to build my house, and I was walking along the water when I ran out of canal and came across this pub,” said the 36-year-old.
“It’s just a fantastic place. I rang the agent, who said it was not for sale, but in the end I was able to buy it. The building really was quite neglected but it’s a real jewel and we’re restoring as much of it as we can.”
Plaquemine Lock – the pub will be renamed after the Louisiana city where Mr Kenedy’s grandmother, the late actress, painter, marionette artiste and socialite Virginia Campbell, was born – will have a standing area, and serve real ale, as well as London-brewed beers and cocktails.
The pub will serve a menu of cajun and creole cuisine – the melting pot of French, African and American cultures found in the southern US state. But it will not be another faceless gastropub, insists the new landlord, who will live across two floors above it with his partner David.
“It will remain a pub and there will be standing room, as well as a small dining room,” Mr Kenedy said. “I’ve never thought much about the difference between a pub and a gastropub but I suppose it will be somewhere in between.
“Cajun and creole is the most amazing cuisine. I always had a dream of opening a Louisiana-themed restaurant, but this has given me an opportunity to take a more realistic approach to it. And it is very compatible with a traditional British pub.
“I’ve spoken to a lot of the neighbours and people have been supportive getting it through planning. I’m a bit scared about living where I work, but I think it will be lovely. I hope we’ll get a real mixture of people coming in here.”
Mr Kenedy’s mother, the renowned artist Haidee Becker, who lives in Canonbury, will design a large mural for the pub’s dining area.
The project has received the backing of the Friends of Regent’s Canal, many of whom were regulars at the Prince of Wales, and the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA).
Ian Shacklock, chairman of the Friends and a also a CAMRA member, said: “The Prince of Wales was an affordable pub for local people. The Boat Club used to drink there, and people from the Angel Canal Festival.
“Out of the blue, Jacob approached me and he said he’d decided to invest with the intention of reviving it as a pub. It wasn’t just a matter of re-opening the door, he ploughed money into it and he wanted us to like what was going on.
“I wrote the council a year ago that I did not want it to be turned into a gastro and the last thing you want on a corner like that is luxury flats. And here’s comes this chef who said it would still serve real ale and there would be standing room, and it could be used as a meeting point. It’s got our blessing as a group and I hope he keeps his promise.”
The building project, which includes extensions to the side and basement, has been designed by Mr Kenedy’s friend Nan Atichatpong, of design-NA architects.
Plaquemine Lock is expected to open just before Christmas.