We chat with the founder of the trailblazing pub and its week’s worth of awe-inspiring events.
When it comes to fifth birthday parties, your mind might not necessarily think of free chicken wings, comedy shows and a copious amount of alcohol. Yet, this is the style of living adopted by the Prince of Peckham – the trailblazing southeast London pub founded by Clement Ogbonnaya. Having served jerk chicken and Caribbean food from its residential kitchen since May 2017, the Prince of Peckham celebrated its fifth year of running by thanking its loyal customers in style — continuing to rebuff the prejudices of Peckham, reinstating it as a destination of multicultural celebration.
From their Big Fat Queer Quiz night to a whole evening of free-flowing honey-glazed chicken wings to a pop comedy open mic, the week’s worth of events have inspired a new sense of community within the Peckham area — where individuals from every background can unite together in the chaos of good food, unforgettable entertainment and general silliness.
Getting to know the founder of the innovative establishment, we sat with Clement to discuss his experience with opening the pub, his inspiration for its events and what he hopes to achieve in future.
To read the full interview now, head below…
Hey Clement! How are you? How has this past year been for you?
Hey! I’m good! Feeling extremely grateful. The past year has been great – and obviously challenging – but what business isn’t right?!
The pandemic hit everyone hard, what was the most challenging aspect for you?
The pandemic was what I like to call ‘a mazzer’! Being told to you must close without any idea of returning. But the most worrying thing for me was ensuring my staff weren’t left out to dry. They’re young, some not from London, and they’re just a great team. As soon as furlough was announced, I was relieved for them. It wasn’t much, but every little helped, I guess. We also have a flat on the top of the pub and offered some of the team who struggled with accommodation the option of staying rent free.
Let’s start at the beginning, how did the Prince of Peckham come to fruition?
Prince of Peckham was born from my love of pubs, but the lack of diversity and inclusion within them. I came to London as a 6 year from Nigeria. And being African wasn’t cool back in the 80s and 90s. Feeling like an alien is not the one. I wanted to create my own slice of the world where everyone felt part of. Desmond’s was my favourite show growing up as it was the closest thing to my family. A character in the show – Lee ‘The Peckham Prince’ Stanley was the coolest. Patois one minute, cockney the next. That’s how the name of the pub came about.
And it’s all about community, why is it important to you to champion Peckham?
Peckham hasn’t always been the coolest place, with a stigma attached to it. Every weekend growing up, my mum would take us down Rye Lane – we were reluctant of course – to buy all the ingredients she needed to for the week. She would buy everything. It was essentially her Oxford Street. There are genuine characters in the area that have always been overlooked. I also went to school in Peckham, so I spent my formative years. There’s an energy in Peckham like no other place in London. And I feel Peckham deserves its flowers. It deserves a pub like Prince.
You say it’s the solution to gentrification, what made you what to highlight this problem with the Prince of Peckham?
Gentrification is this grotesque word. And the very definition of it is to improve an area to middle-class standards. Everyone wants to be in a better space – financially, socially etc. We need to share information and opportunities amongst the people within the community which allows them to be part of that journey. Prince of Peckham champions the old and the new within the area, a space where all can coexist. Create, inspire, share and enjoy. One doesn’t need to replace the other, you need to identify the different groups within said community and make an effort to cater to all. You can’t be all things to all understandably, but you can have fun trying.
And now you’re celebrating your 5th birthday! Looking back on the past years, what has been the most memorable moment?
Five years has gone incredibly quickly! But it’s been one hell of a ride. Christmas just gone, one of the Auntys, across the road made me a rum Christmas cake. She’s lived in the estate for over 40 years and has spoken to me about the various incarnations of this pub. But stated, this one has been a pleasure watching grow. She comes to eat with her kids, and to see her in this boozer is everything. I’m sure pub culture, even the one on her doorstep never made her feel welcome. And now she has somewhere she can call home from home.
And you’re hosting a series of celebrations, which one are you most excited for?
Honestly, there’s not any one event that I’m more excited than the others. However, the Big Fat Queer Quiz is something that I’m proud of. Marginalised groups need to be championed, most importantly by other marginalised groups. Inclusivity is very important to me, and I am so happy we actively cater for LGBTQ+ amongst others.
The Prince of Peckham is not just well known in the south but all over London for its culture and events, how does this make you feel?
If you told me 5 years ago you’d have people from north, east and west London coming to Prince as well as out of the city, I would’ve told you to do one! But seeing it unfold, week in and week out is extremely humbling but a testament to the hard work the team puts in.
What do you home people take away from the pub?
I hope people leave Prince feeling a sense of belonging. A real shift in pub culture representing the very community in which it resides.
And what are you most looking forward to? What’s next?
We have big plans in store and will be making an exciting announcement very soon so watch this space. It will be a huge challenge but one we are relishing and community will remain at the heart. More info to come…