Tring's popular Akeman celebrates 10th Anniversary with major refurbishment

Local restauranteur moves into number 10.

Thursday, 5th October 2017, 3:11 pm
Updated Monday, 11th December 2017, 9:18 pm
Akeman head chef Conor McKinney and manager Eamonn Borg-Neal

October in Tring might prove to be a little less fun this month as The Akeman closes for the first time since it opened its doors nearly 10 years ago for a substantial refit.

Having acquired No. 10 Akeman Street a couple of years ago, the empty shop will be incorporated into a revitalised Akeman, providing more customer space.

The existing bar and restaurant based at No. 9 Akeman Street, will retain its classic modern lines together with the natural blend of materials including Lakeland slate, cedar cladding, brass and zinc counters. The extension to the rear of No. 10 allows the kitchen space to be expanded, providing a better working environment, as well as creating space for a new wood fired oven. The theatre of the kitchen activities will be more on view than ever before and much of the cooking gas-fired equipment will be replaced with more energy-efficient induction hobs and stoves.

The original single accessible toilet to the ground floor will be replaced with two new WC’s making access to facilities easier for all, whilst at the same time enlarging the restaurant space by ten additional covers.

Malcolm Schooling, Oakman Inns’ property director, said there is a big difference in ‘spatial dynamics’ at No. 10.

“There were two small parlour rooms which have been stripped back to reveal the original Victorian brick and timbers,” he said.

“A single opening for customers is formed between the fireplace area of No. 9 and the new front area of No. 10. A small curved bar servery is being installed to provide a complete bar offering for our guests in what will create an area full of cosy corners and the opportunity to hold semi-private parties and events.”

Eamonn Borg-Neal, the recently appointed general manager, said: “The shopfront to No. 10 will have a new bay window mirroring those found in the neighbouring properties making the extension feel like a discrete, subtle addition and many of the new furnishings will be hand-made locally in Hertfordshire.

“Our Head Chef, Conor McKinney, is looking forward to creating a wider range of dishes in our newly designed kitchen. He’ll still be focusing on our Mediterranean-inspired flavours and charcoal-grilled dishes, but the addition of the traditional wood-fired oven means we can offer an even more family-friendly menu including a new range of hand-crafted, authentic pizzas.”

The Akeman was the first Oakman Inn, the group founded by Eamonn’s father, Peter Borg-Neal. It led the way for a new style of modern pub designed to be not only relaxed, but to feel like home - places that were comfortable, that were as happy to sell a cocktail as a coffee and where guests could get great food served from breakfast to late supper. Ten years on, there are now 20 Oakman Inns across the Home Counties and the West Midlands, and December will see several soon-to-be announced celebratory decadal events.

Peter said: “I am so proud of Oakman Inns and the talented people who make it work. They have collectively won awards, helped their local communities, driven support for the environment and for ten years have helped to make this last decade so very special. Eamonn is a great example of our Oakman team, having started quite rightly at the bottom and is now responsible for the re-opening and management of the enlarged Akeman.”

Before The Akeman re-opens on Saturday 11th November, Eamonn is looking to increase his team to 40 full and part-time staff. The pub group has won awards for its innovative staff training and HR programmes and is one of 40 UK companies to receive this year’s Princess Royal Training Award.