Our second instalment of Pillars of the Community is an infamous Homerton hotspot, which is known and loved across the city of London: The Kenton. If you don’t know it, then where have you been hiding? Read on and get to know it!
The Kenton is best described as a traditional British pub with a Scandinavian twist. Egil, the landlord of The Kenton, is inextricably linked with the pub’s appeal and rich character. Hailing from Voss, a hamlet of just 55 people in Western Norway, Egil is a warm, interesting guy with an almost tangible passion for his business. He is a licensed drone operator, who films and edits his own social media videos, has lived in cities all over the world and performs local beer deliveries on his cargo bike: We could have extended the interview by hours just to listen to his stories!
Hackney’s Scandi pub has received a swath of awards over the years, not only winning TimeOut London’s “Best Pub in Hackney” award multiple times but also receiving the prestigious title of “Most Loved Pub in London’ in 2015. So what makes The Kenton so special? A powerful combination of quality, customer service and character seem to be the answer. The unique venue is filled with preloved treasures and vintage curiosities, creating a living museum of Egil and his history.
Egil took charge of The Kenton in March 2009, following its previous closure in 2008. The global financial crisis had a devastating impact on local businesses, with many pubs and the majority of Homerton High Street standing empty. The Kenton became a ‘new wave pub’, one of the first north of Victoria Park to reopen in the aftermath. When Egil took over the reins the pub was under tie with Admiral, but then the existing landlord bought out the lease. This meant that although the rent doubled, Egil was able to become independent and free of tie.
Over the last 12 years, The Kenton has seen many changes to industry, area and the local community. Gentrification has brought huge shifts, both positive and negative. The once empty local high street is now thriving, and the area filled with pubs, cafes and restaurants. The flip side of this is that property prices have shot up and rent for The Kenton itself has quadrupled. Egil has observed a gradual change in clientele, with younger people moving into the area as Homerton has become a destination with more going on.
The Kenton is very much a ‘community’ pub. Egil emphasised to us that the pub could not exist without the community and local people. The love for the venue is clear from the glowing Google reviews left by patrons, who wax lyrical about the cosy atmosphere, friendly staff, and delicious food. Egil believes that without a strong team and good customer service you are nothing. He loves to hang out and chat with both staff and customers and is 'super proud’ of his tight-knit team. The Kenton relies on local vendors for all of its operations and supplies, from the tradespeople to sourcing furniture from local charity shops. There is even a network of local Homerton landlords, with the attitude that there are enough customers for everyone.
Naturally, we had to talk beer. We asked Egil how the beer industry had changed during his time as landlord of The Kenton. He told us how when they opened in 2009 there weren’t any IPAs around, just bitters and lager, which is quite a contrast to the beerscape of today! These days he finds people are willing to spend more money on quality beer, and that the standard of beer has gone up massively with so many breweries in London now. The Kenton has three taps that are constantly rotated between British and Norwegian breweries, although it is manager Steve who chooses the beer range. Egil isn’t very experimental with his beer, although he professes his love for Kona Big Wave (and Pillars of course).
In terms of the future, the main goal for The Kenton team is to achieve financial stability following the impact of covid. If you would like to show The Kenton some support, particularly during lockdown, you can pick up some very cool merchandise on their website, or if you live locally Egil will bring the pub to you with home deliveries of booze every Friday.
Follow @thekentonpub on social media to keep up to date with news and make sure you are the first in line when they reopen!