Pub gets a pizza the action with £400k refurbishment

Kings Arms' general manager George Tompkins and some of his team on Halloween night before they closed for the week.
Kings Arms' general manager George Tompkins and some of his team on Halloween night before they closed for the week.

An 18th century coaching inn in Berkhamsted closed its doors on Saturday ahead of a week-long refurbishment project.

The Kings Arms, on the town’s High Street, will be closed until Saturday (November 7) while the work is carried out – and pizza-lovers will be pleased to hear that a wood-fired pizza oven will be taking centre stage in the dining area.

An army of tradesmen have descended on the building – owned and run by Tring-based firm Oakman Inns since 2010 – to carry out the re-decoration and reconfiguration.

The pub’s principal function room – known at the Greene Room after local author Graham Greene – will have a dedicated kitchen after an adjacent bedroom is converted.

Other bedrooms will be updated, soundproofed and redecorated to bring them ‘up to standard’ and repairs will be taking place on the roof and second floor.

Downstairs in the bar area, the open fireplace will be restored and the bar furniture replaced with leather seating.

Behind the scenes, improvements to the working areas with upgraded extraction airflows and new equipment will mean a better working environment for kitchen staff.

Better serving areas and improved communications between order, kitchen and waiting staff will improve the work flow and ensure guests receive their orders promptly and efficiently.

Peter Borg-Neal, Oakman Inns’ chief executive, said: “The Kings Arms has been a huge success over the last five years and we are proud that we have been a large part of the improvement of the vibrancy of Berkhamsted.

“Our success has attracted in a number of large branded restaurant operators but we have still maintained the number one position in the town – which as a local company gives us a great deal of pride.

“But we don’t take success for granted and we are investing to ensure we stay one step ahead of the game.

“In particular, we are responding to customer demand by building a wood burning oven in order to bring our famous Forno Vivo pizzas to Berkhamsted.”

George Tompkins, general manager, said: “My team and I have seen the plans and are really excited about how good the pub is going to be after the work is complete.

“I know it seems a lot of money to spend over just seven days, but when you look at how good it is going to be it makes sense.

“I simply can’t wait until Saturday when I get the place back and we can throw the doors open to our customers.”

Malcolm Schooling, Oakman Inns’ property director, said: “The planned investment scheme will considerably enhance our offer by extending the bar servery, replacing the furniture, redecorating throughout, improving the bedrooms and adding a wood burning oven.

“Overall, the entire building will show the results of our dedication to providing the most comfortable environment in an atmosphere of quiet, understated quality, whilst remaining affordable and accessible to our many guests.”