OakPods and FlexiTents, popular pub-restaurant group's ingenious additions to help meet Tier 2 restrictions

Oakman Inns run 28 pub-restaurants in Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Northamptonshire and Oxfordshire

Friday, 27th November 2020, 12:02 pm
Updated Friday, 27th November 2020, 12:42 pm

Oakman Inns has installed purpose-built, all weather outdoor glazed igloos to provide comfortable and Covid-safe environments for their guests.

The independent pub group, which runs 28 pub-restaurants across Southern England and the midlands, have invested over £250,000 in providing new levels of customer safety.

Peter Borg-Neal, founder and chairman of local pub group, and CEO, Dermot King, along with other pub and restaurant operators across the UK, they are bitterly disappointed that the government has imposed ‘devastating’ Tier 2 restrictions across most of the country, despite the fact that Public Health England figures show pubs and restaurants are safer environments for socialising than homes.

Jeremy Baucher, the OakPods' Podmaster and The Polecat Inn's GM, Georgia Price (C) Owen Price Photography

During the second lockdown the independent pub group has installed purpose-built, all-weather, outdoor glazed igloos – also known as ‘OakPods’ and a range of heated Festive FlexiTents for Al Fresco dining where their pubs have capacity.

These provide a safe, warm and convivial way for up to six to eat outside in their own enchanting bubble lit with magical fairy lights and cosy lamps.

Guests can personalise their ‘OakPod’ using its integrated music system, adjustable heating, and ‘call for service’ buzzer.

From next week, these comfortable, personal spaces will be ready to re-open in time for Christmas festivities - under the Government’s guidelines – which includes the reshaping of the 10pm curfew.

OakPods at night (C) Oakman Inns

‘OakPods’ can be booked at The Red Lion, Water End, The Polecat Inn, Prestwood, the Beech House in Beaconsfield, The Navigation Inn on the Grand Canal at Thrupp Wharf near Cosgrove and Banyers House, Royston.

Oakman’s first ‘OakPods’ which landed in the large garden at The Polecat Inn for Halloween were a sell-out before the Government announced the second lockdown.

Their General Manager, Georgia Price, (pictured with her Pod Master, Jérémy Baucher), was delighted by the reaction from their first guests.

She said: “Our guests love the way they can escape into their own private ‘bubble’ and leave all their Covid worries at the garden gate for a couple of hours.

"We’re trying hard to provide both our local community and those who live further away with something a bit different for the countdown to Christmas this year.”

For those looking to wrap up warm to meet up with other households outside will find FlexiTents at Berkhamsted’s Kings Arms, The Akeman in Tring, Amersham’s Beech House, Swanbourne’s Betsey Wynne and The White Hart in Ampthill.

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 July 4th 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, and Peter’s efforts were recently rewarded with two prestigious industry awards voted for by his peers.

OAKMAN RUNS THE FOLLOWING VENUES IN OUR AREAS:

Bedfordshire

White Hart, Ampthill

Buckinghamshire

Beech House, Amersham

Beech House, Beaconsfield

Cherry Tree, Olney

The Akeman Inn, Kingswood

Betsey Wynne, Swanbourne

The Polecat Inn, Prestwood

Hertfordshire

King’s Arms, Berkhamsted

Banyers House, Royston

Beech House, St Albans

The Red Lion, Water End

The Akeman, Tring

Northamptonshire

The Navigation at Thrupp Wharf, Cosgrove

Oxfordshire

The Crown & Thistle, Abingdon

The Old Post Office, Wallingford

Blue Boar, Witney