The acquisition of the Queen of the South in Tulse Hill coincides with the creation of Ogbonnaya’s new pub group, The Village People.
The group intends to acquire old and disused pubs, and regenerate them into ‘stylish, welcoming and inclusive multi-functional community hubs’.
“I’ve worked in hospitality for 13 years and I’ve seen how the industry has changed throughout this time, both for the better and for the worse,” says Ogbonnaya, who opens to launch a total of five pubs over the next five years.
“While people are searching for a sense of belonging and community now more than ever, many British boozers have gone from being area hubs to laying empty and derelict, which is a tragedy. I think there’s a massive opportunity to rejuvenate the pub scene and bring them back to the heart of the community.”
Raised in Peckham, Ogbonnaya opened his first pub to be a ‘solution to gentrification’, aiming to create a space for all to come and enjoy quality food and drink.
Consequently, a key focus of The Village People group will be to educate its staff, customers and the wider community on local issues and challenges, as well as highlighting ways to make a positive difference.
To support his aspiration to make ‘public houses public again’ Ogbonnaya has recruited Eva Arnaiz as community manager.
Formerly the Head of Inclusion and Social Impact at The Breakfast Club, Arnaiz has been tasked with developing the Community Outreach Programme, which will see the pub group support other local businesses through event space, special collaborations and grants.