Since 4 July, Peter Borg-Neal, Founder and Chairman of 28-strong local pub group, Oakman Inns, which owns five pubs in Hertfordshire, and his CEO, Dermot King, have provided comfortable yet Covid-safe environments for their guests. With other pub and restaurant operators across the UK, the Tring-headquartered group is bitterly disappointed that the Government has imposed ‘devasting’ Tier 2 restrictions across 99% of the country, despite the fact that PHE figures show pubs and restaurants are safer environments for socialising than homes. This week, Peter announced on BBC Breakfast that his company has invested over £250,000 in providing new levels of customer safety.
During #Lockdown2, the independent pub group, which operates 28 distinctive family-friendly pubs across Southern England and the Midlands, has installed purpose-built, all-weather, outdoor glazed igloos – also known as ‘OakPods’ – in the gardens at Banyers House in Royston and the Red Lion in Water End.
The OakPods provide a safe, warm and convivial way for up to six to eat in their own enchanting bubble illuminated with magical fairy lights and cosy lamps. Guests can personalise their private ‘OakPod’ using its integrated music system, adjustable heating, and ‘call for service’ buzzer. From this week, these comfortable, personal spaces will be ready to re-open in time for Christmas festivities – under the Government’s guidelines – which thankfully include the reshaping of the 10pm Curfew.
Traditional & Mediterranean-influenced Winter & Festive Menus
Every dish is expertly prepared by the pubs’ chefs using fresh, seasonal and sustainable ingredients in their signature open theatre-style kitchen and every member of the family bubble, regardless of their dietary needs, will find something to please even the most discerning palate this Christmas.
Their fabulous Festive menus include traditional Christmas favourites together with some imaginative Mediterranean-influenced dishes such as a Porcini Mushroom & Truffle Soup, Cod wrapped in Pancetta and indulgent desserts such as Chocolate Panettone Bread & Butter Pudding.
For guests looking for a homely, post-lockdown meal out to chat over life and to relax without the worry of cooking and washing up, their chefs are on hand to prepare expertly-crafted Neapolitan pizzas in their wood-fired ovens, freshly grilled meats, sustainably-caught fish plus some new dishes – including Slow-Roast Shoulder of Lamb with braised red cabbage – and some tasty vegetarian options.
Dermot King, Oakman Inns’ CEO, said: ‘On December 2nd, all our pubs in Tier 2 will be fully open again serving one family bubble inside to a maximum of six people and a mix of six guests outside where we can. As everyone who has eaten in one of our 28 pubs since 4 July knows, we have always provided the safest possible environment in which to relax and dine. The pandemic has forced us all to think differently and to be more inventive. In that spirit, where our pubs have large outdoor spaces, we have brought the indoors outside in a safe, sociable and comfortable way, while delivering new kinds of immersive dining experiences.’
Since the pandemic broke out, Oakman’s Chairman, Peter Borg-Neal, and CEO, Dermot King, with other hospitality industry leaders, have been lobbying the Government tirelessly to help save the UK’s pub and restaurant sector. In May, Oakman Inns provided advice to the Cabinet Office on the industry’s best practice in Covid-secure health and safety measures. Peter’s efforts were recently rewarded with two prestigious industry awards voted for by his peers.