The long-awaited 2021 reopening of The Cadogan Arms saw the much-loved Chelsea institution restored to its former glory with an ambitious renovation paying homage to two centuries spent serving the local community.
Speaking to the Managing Director of The Cadogan Arms, Dom Jacobs, it’s clear the King’s Road, and The Cadogan Arms’ place amongst its businesses is personally important. Ask him to describe the King’s Road in three words and the answer comes easily: “Buoyant, creative, and quality.”
Based on the west side of the King’s Road, on the corner of Old Church Street, The Cadogan Arms, was reopened in 2021 after a full refit, and is explained by Jacobs as, ‘the new gold standard of pubs in London.’
“I always have a vision of a family with different generations sat around the table, maybe one of our large tables in The Cadogan Arms. A grandad or uncle who might want a cask ale, a sister who likes cocktail, cousin who likes craft beers. Everyone sat around that table should have an experience which has all aspects to suit.”
A diverse menu
The Cadogan Arms’ menu promises ‘pub classics, bar snacks, British dishes and traditional Sunday roasts with a focus on provenance, seasonality and traceability. Alongside a carefully curated wine list sits alongside twelve draught beers and a menu of classically inspired cocktails.’ A diverse menu for a diverse crowd.
Jacobs cites ‘diversity’ as part of the makeup and interest of the area: “People wouldn’t normally think that the area is so diverse but in Chelsea on the King’s Road, there’s a lot going on in around us. Take our stretch on the west side of the King’s Road, there’s a lot of different offerings down there with really interesting shops.
“Compared with other destinations, it hosts a lot of smaller boutique style businesses, high fashion, art, antiques and the food offering to match. As a destination, I don’t know anywhere else like it in London; it’s found its niche in that respect.”
Hard times ahead
The last three years of Covid-19 related impact have hit the hospitality sector particularly hard. The respite expected in 2022 and 2023 have faced ongoing concerns with many hospitality outlets continuing to face a diverse range of challenges.
“Obviously recruitment has been a challenge but we expect that to ease off a bit this year. I think sadly there will be a lot of closures in the hospitality sector as the challenges may be too hard to bear.
“Strike action, has been devastating to revenue – and that revenue is lost for good. On a weekly basis, we have staff to employ with a when turnover drops so dramatically it really impacts our profitability and the ability to take on more staff, it’s a major challenge.
“And the big one, which continues to challenge everybody is inflation. Pubs are disproportionately affected by it. Today inflation was announced at,10.5% but the reality for hospitality is our costs are going up much more than that. We use a high level of energy and the cost of food and drink is going up more than the average inflation. Fish and chips is a perfect example, all elements of that dish have gone up nearly 30% in the last year. it is a challenge with the backdrop of the cost of living crisis. We put our prices up to cover the increased costs we are facing but we are facing weaker, consumer spending power. That’s been one of the greatest challenges, recruitment and inflation versus the cost of living.”
As a board member on the King’s Road Business Improvement District (BID), Jacobs is an advocate for the work of the Partnership, citing the work on reducing crime levels with the BID funded security team:
“One of the great successes and something I know retailers and hospitality across the board are very happy to see the progress with, is on the dramatic improvement in crime levels, down 19%.”
“Sadly there are still crimes, but some real action is being taken. It’s reassuring, since we want to make sure that if people commit crimes they’re being correctly brought to justice, and it also serves as a warning to people who are thinking of attacking some of the shops on the King’s Road. Real people, people’s lives, with thousands of pounds stolen.”
Alongside, crime reduction work from the BID has also focussed on lobbying for transport links for the area, maintaining crucial bus routes through the area.
“There’s also a sustainability drive for synced up services to ensure we don’t have multiple trucks coming down the King’s Road. And finally, the one off events – anyone who attended the Christmas lights, the firework display, the jubilee celebrations, Chelsea in bloom. The enhancement the BID brings to these events makes them bigger and better every year. We see the overall impact of the BID when we look at footfall. The Kings Road is performing very well comparatively to the rest of London on 2019 figures so we are doing something right!”
Recommendations from the top
As a former resident and business director in the district, Jacobs’ easily makes recommendations for the area from well-trodden routes along the Road:
“My wife and I used to live in Fulham and something we used to do regularly is walk from our house down to [Café] Colbert. It was a real treat to enjoy the hospitality whilst she would shop, I would stop at cafes and restaurants for perks along the way. We love Casa Manolo for a quick sherry and Iberico ham, then we’d stop a few doors down and go for coffee at Hagen. It would all culminate in a drink at Café Colbert at the end, or the wine shop [Mother Vine] on Pavilion Road.”
“I am a massive fan of Prezzemolo & Vitale, the Italian delicatessen. I go in for maybe some olives, and I come out with about £50 worth of items since the quality of produce available is fantastic. I love the market on Duke of York Square, again an incredible place to go. Pavilion Road, a massive destination as well – there’s an obvious theme of food and drink here!”
Being a part of the area, in his many capacities, is clearly a continued enjoyment for Jacobs:
“There are so many fantastic hospitality outlets on the King’s Road. Combined we employ a lot of people, we contribute a lot and are a big part of the destination – giving people an opportunity to enjoy world-class hospitality. To have a voice on the board in how we can further improve that is really important, and seeing it plans develop into tangible action is very rewarding. To be a part of that is a great pleasure and I am delighted to be representing hospitality businesses on then board””
And the best-kept secret on the King’s Road? “Well, the ham, egg and chips at The Cadogan Arms is hard to miss!”