A local couple are reviving the community spirit at a landmark Crouch End pub after teaming up with Ei Publican Partnerships, part of Ei Group, the UK’s largest pub company.
In a £168,000 scheme to revitalise the 120-year-old Princess Alexandra, Ei Publican Partnerships has contributed more than £100,000 alongside £60,000 put up by first-time publicans Nick Ford and his partner Hayley Chappell.
The couple, who together have more than 40 years’ experience in the hospitality industry, want to take the Park Road venue back to its roots, including reverting back to its original name, the venue having been called The Alex for some years.
Nick said: “We want The Princess Alexandra to return to the great community pub that everyone talks about so fondly. Our aim is for the pub to appeal to all people: somewhere they can come for a coffee and lunch; a quality meal; Sunday lunch; or enjoy live entertainment on Friday and Saturday evenings. Essentially, it will be an independent pub for the community, offering great food and drink in a relaxed and friendly atmosphere, all delivered by great service.”
On the edge of Crouch End Village and close to Alexandra Palace, work on the pub has seen internal and external decoration; development of the garden to include a bar servery area and covered, heated seating, which Ford says will be popular in winter; plus, the installation of a commercial kitchen. The Princess Alexandra also features a front terrace with tables and chairs. The pub will be showing live sport via three large TVs, plus a big screen in a conservatory, which allows the venue to show sport in one area of the pub and not others.
Ford added: “It’s always been an ultimate goal and ambition of mine to run my own pub. My experience, skills and knowledge, plus Hayley’s shared passion to establish our own business, as well as the ongoing support from Ei Publican Partnerships, has allowed us to make this ambition a reality. We felt the time was right and, more importantly, it’s the right pub too. I’ve lived in the Crouch End area for eight years and have got to know the building and the area really well, and felt it needed a pub that the people here could call their own.”
An assistant manager and a chef are part of a 10-strong team at the pub. Freshly prepared on the premises, food comprises everything from snacks and starters for those who want to graze; to a range of pub classics and traditional Sunday roasts. Sharing dishes include nachos and buffalo chicken wings; among the mains are burgers, beer battered fish and triple-cooked chips; chicken Caesar salad, and Picanha steak; while chocolate tart and crème brûlée comprise the desserts. Mains cater for meat eaters, vegetarians and vegans.
Ford’s 20 years in the hospitality industry include management experience in pubs, restaurants and hotels, and he was most recently head of food for Antic London, the pub chain founded in East Dulwich, in 1999. Partner Hayley has worked in pubs and clubs, and has 20 years’ experience in hotel finance, including at two IHG London sites with a combined turnover of more than £8m.
The couple have had positive feedback since taking on the pub: “It’s been amazing, and really positive”, said Ford. “People love the refurb, and tell us that it’s so good to see the place back as it should be – a community pub.”
Ei Publican Partnerships Regional Manager Philip Lamb said: “Nick and Hayley, with all their combined hospitality sector experience, have the perfect credentials to take this pub back to its roots as a community hub, while at the same time offering modern standards in food and service. We’re always keen to support people like Nick and Hayley, who have bags of energy and entrepreneurial drive, with investment, and our commitment here reflects our confidence in their abilities.”