Local pub group Oakman Inns unveils weatherproof “pod” covid-safe initiative to provide covid-safe pub and restaurant option.
Since 4th July, Peter Borg-Neal, Founder and Chairman of 28 strong local pub group, Oakman Inns, which owns eight pubs in Buckinghamshire and The Navigation Inn near Cosgrove, and his CEO, Dermot King, have provided comfortable yet Covid-safe environments for their guests. With other pub and restaurant operators across the UK, they are 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’ 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 thankfully includes the reshaping of the 10pm Curfew.
In Buckinghamshire and just over the border in Northamptonshire, ‘OakPods’ can be booked at The Polecat Inn, Prestwood, the Beech House in Beaconsfield and The Navigation Inn on the Grand Canal at Thrupp Wharf near Cosgrove.
The 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 above 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.”
Every dish is expertly prepared by their 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 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. Peter’s efforts were recently rewarded with two prestigious industry awards voted for by his peers.