By: Adam Slight
If you went to Carleton University, and spent a lot of time in the Meadowlands/Prince of Wales area, you may have had a beer or two at the Prince of Wales Restaurant (or the POW as it is often called). If so, then I am sad to announce the news that our once favourite hole-in-the-wall has been patched, painted, and will no longer be serving cheap beer with flies in it.
The Prince of Wales Restaurant was a cozy little place, invoking the classic atmosphere of the run down 1970s road house, complete with uneven pool tables, stale vending machine jelly beans, and smoke-stained brown wallpaper.
It was owned by two brothers, who looked pretty much the same, but one had glasses, and his name was William. My friends and I spent the better part of the 2006-2007 school year attending the POW’s Friday/Saturday karaoke nights. William (or his brother) was always happy to see us walk through the door—because we were likely keeping the place in business.
The karaoke nights at the POW were an illustrious affair. DJ Lisa would spin the most untimely tracks to ironically sing to, and local regulars would belt out their favourite ’80s rock ballads in hopes that an agent in the audience would notice. Some of these nights got pretty rambunctious, but William was always happy to clean up spilt beer—because this was his community. Nevertheless, William knew when to draw the line—like the time someone’s grandma started flashing everyone. GET OUT OF HERE GRANDMA!
But good things must always come to an end. In 2007 there was great internal contention at the POW, and DJ Lisa was fired! When I heard this news, my heart went out to the bar regulars who relied on DJ Lisa to give them a voice to speak to record agents in hopes of getting a taste of the good life. The POW hired a replacement karaoke professional, a man named Gary-oke. Things just weren’t the same after that. With Gary-oke came a whole new crowd of regulars, and the POW quickly downgraded from “dive” to “biker bar,” and we took our leave.
In 2009, I visited the POW, was soon offered cocaine, and I never returned.
Early this year, the POW went out of business. My heart wept for the newest generation of Carleton U Nepeanites who will never feel the music in their hearts, nor feel the hair in their mouths when they eat nachos. And they call this “progress”…
For this new generation, I ask for recommendations— what is your favourite dive bar in Ottawa? Please comment below and share stories.
I will truly miss Prince of Wales Restaurant – a staple of the community for sure. You could always rely on late-night fried food from a friendly staff, even if the owners thought it was unethical to allow the female staff to handle the cash register. Booze and coke a flowin’, there was always some weird guy looking at you a little too long, although the bathrooms were clean. POW was as dive-barish as I got while I lived in Ottawa, but I would always recommend Bank Street for entertainment. O’Brien’s on Heron for karaoke, the Georgetown on Wednesdays for open mic night, Patty’s for meeting with good friends, Quinn’s for a quaint dinner for two, Irene’s for great live music, all of the — for celebrations with friends, and Connor’s for the best pub fare. Corner in the Glebe is the best for hangover food, and the Wild Oat for something fresh. Man, I miss that city.
I agree 100% with O’briens! A great little local kareoke bar for Ottawa South-ians. So simple, tiny and old-school that you can’t help but love the place.
Never made it to POW, but I feel your pain – I don’t know what I’d do without my little local watering hole O’briens.
Having experience O’Brien’s over the Christmas Holidays, I can say that it is definitely a dive-bar “Powerhouse” in Ottawa. There was a booger in my beer, and the regulars are very passionate about their karaoke. Highly recommended!