Boxer returning Prince of Wales to its former glory
PACKED to the rafters and with dozens of customers spilling out the front door, it's as if the Prince of Wales was never closed.
Many people might have forgotten about the pub in Portland Street after it was left empty for more than six months.
But now in the hands of former Commonwealth Games bronze medallist boxer Pat Lewis, 50, and his partner Caz Kapesi, 40, the pub has already recaptured some of its old magic after reopening on Thursday night.
Freshly refurbished with plenty of beer on tap, the pub was ready for the hundreds of people looking for a traditional watering hole after a day at The Open at Cheltenham Racecourse this weekend.
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Pat said: "The plan was always to open towards the Paddy Power meeting to give us a little bit of a headstart. Because the pub has been closed for six months, I think people have got used to just walking past so we have to change that and get people back in.
"Because of its location, this pub should be a big pub and it always has been. We are bringing back a sleeping giant."
The Prince was a wine bar in its previous incarnation.
Before that it was a popular pub, particularly with Irish race visitors, and with good reason as it was originally run by Irishman Billy Burke.
Caz said: "We opened on Wednesday for a private party and then we opened to the public on Thursday officially.
"We knew a couple of months ago that we would be taking it on. It is now a proper drinkers' pub again. When it was held by Billy Burke it was thriving so really now it is back in the family because I am from the same roots in Galway as Billy and my maiden name is Burke." Pat and Caz have made numerous changes to the pub's décor but said the things that made the pub a success in the past remained.
Pat said: "This has been in the pipeline for a while and so once we had done the work, we needed to refurbish the pub because it had been standing empty for about six months, we were able to open.
"Before we took over, the Prince of Wales was being run as a wine bar and I think that did drive the original customers away, so we have turned it back into a traditional pub.
"It is really the only traditional pub in town where people can finish work and get in."