Afro-Caribbean restaurant Jays Soul Food opens in the former Old Prince of Wales pub in Ashford town center

An Afro-Caribbean restaurant has opened in a former pub in downtown Ashford, serving jerk chicken, curried goat and jollof rice.

Mum-of-three Janet Odeyale, known as Lady Jay, has turned the Old Prince of Wales pub into Jays Soul Food, offering a variety of Afro-Caribbean and West African dishes.

Lady Jay transformed the Old Prince of Wales pub

The 19th century building had been boarded up since 2019 but opened to the public today with a grand opening and ribbon cutting ceremony with Ashford Mayor Cllr Callum Knowles (Con).

Ms Odeyale said: “It took a lot of work to get started, but we’re here now and it’s fantastic.

“Most things have worked as planned, but there are still more developments to come.

“In the future, we are going to do the barbecue garden and the outdoor dining area.

“We have a diverse range of Afro-Caribbean foods and specialties from the islands and also from Nigeria.

It can accommodate 80 to 120 people
It can accommodate 80 to 120 people
The outdoor area will be used for barbecues
The outdoor area will be used for barbecues
Advisors and family of Janet Odeyale attended the grand opening of Jays Soul Food
Advisors and family of Janet Odeyale attended the grand opening of Jays Soul Food
The old pub has been transformed
The old pub has been transformed

“Ashford is a diverse community and we want to reflect that in our food and flavors.

“I’m excited to bring something different to Ashford, if you look 25 miles away there’s nothing quite like it and there’s more to come like entertainment and live bands.”

While the grand opening took place today, Jays Soul Food has been serving takeout through Just Eat for the past five weeks.

Ms Odeyale, a resident of Hamstreet, has been cooking since she was 14 and has been in the restaurant business for over 30 years.

She moved to the borough of Greenwich in 2006 and has worked at the historic site since March 2021.

Lady Jay with the children Michaiah, Micah and Malachi
Lady Jay with the children Michaiah, Micah and Malachi
It serves a variety of Afro-Caribbean and West African dishes, including jerk chicken, curried goat, and jollof rice.
It serves a variety of Afro-Caribbean and West African dishes, including jerk chicken, curried goat, and jollof rice.
It has space for music and live bands
It has space for music and live bands

It was previously part of the Ashford Farmers Market and its catering business has a five-star food hygiene rating from Ashford Borough Council.

Ms Odeyale said she considered other locations in the city, such as Elwick Place, before securing the lease for the historic pub as it was ideal for her dream business.

The restaurant can accommodate around 80 guests but can reach 120 with the new outdoor barbecue area.

Michael M. Tomlin