Vibe’n’Go 2560 1707 Karishma Puri

An integral part of any healthy community are those “third places”, not the workplace or the home, but somewhere public, somewhere social. Historically in London, the need for these spaces was served by the local neighbourhood pubs or community centres, often found on residential backstreets away from the high street. Indeed, Camden has a long and rich history of these spaces, from local services to its legendary nightlife venues. However, these spaces are becoming more scarce, leaving fewer social “third places” for locals to actually interact.

Man standing outside of house

Roujai Lestrade-Lake, the founder of Vibe’n’Go in Kentish Town, noticed this need for social cohesion and was inspired when visiting his native, Dominique. “At the end of the road, there’s essentially a corner shop selling drinks and food with the jerk pan out, a couple of little tables where people play dominoes, I instantly felt at home there, watching people passing by, just stopping for dominos and conversations. It struck a chord with me because that’s my kind of atmosphere… I thought, if I could replicate this back home, it could be a key to opening a door”.

“Vibe’n’Go became an instant hit, bringing in customers from all walks of life.”

Back in Camden Roujai and his sister decided to do exactly that, and fire up the jerk pan right on the front doorstep of their residential block two days a week. Vibe’n’Go became an instant hit, bringing in customers from all walks of life. “Everybody can like gravitate towards this place, everyone’s included,” Roujai tells us. “We’re in a massive melting pot. I’ve got both people in social housing and barristers coming here and for them to interact, to just chill, together on the same level… I think that’s important”.

Chicken on a barbeque

For Roujai, the obvious next step would be to open a shop front, but he’s not interested, preferring instead to keep the business truly local. You can spot Roujai outside his steps on Hadley Street, with a smile on his face and a jerk pan on his arm, every Wednesday and Saturday from afternoon “‘til chicken dun”.

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