A treasured Charlton pub has been saved from becoming another block of flats after a local son and father combo have fought to continue its legacy in the middle of the pandemic.
Just 200 yards away from the Valley, The Royal Oak has been a staple of Charlton Athletic match days for years, but with no football fans or even customers for over a year, the local faced demolition.
So Bexleyheath residents Kevin Latta and father Robert decided to step in and rescue the pub on Charlton Lane in an “instinctual decision” to keep the venue alive.
Kevin, 36, said he remembered going to watch Charlton play since he was a kid, and always went, then drank, at the pub before and after games.
The pub and restaurant owner acted quickly, agreeing a deal with the landlords and now the ‘over the moon’ duo have officially taken on the lease to carry on the pub’s good name
The Royal Oak is now undergoing a complete refurbishment, with walls, floors and ceilings being ripped out, lights refitted, garden redesigned and even a new menu brought in.
Kevin said the pub has always relied heavily on football fans to make ends meet, one of the reasons it actually shut down in 2020, so for the first time the pub’s kitchen will be producing “quirky, niche food” for local diners
“There’s barely anywhere to eat around here, so it’s an absolute no-brainer,” he explained.
“There are just three pubs in the area, and one has already closed during the lockdowns, so I couldn’t let another go.
“Our plan is to let the local community know we’re here, get them onside and let them know what we’re not offering.”
This will help the site survive without the regular flux of football fans, at least until they are allowed to return in force.
Kevin revealed he had even been in touch with the club, who had invited him to visit their museum inside The Valley and take his pick of spare memorabilia to decorate the pub.
Now, the 36-year-old says they have their heads down working on the refurb, which should be mostly complete by the end of the month.
“We’re getting by at the moment, and just looking forward to being ready for Boris to give us the go-ahead!”