Following a reception on Thursday evening (26th July) for 450 investors, friends, neighbours and VIPs, the new owners of the Royal Foresters pub in Ascot had an official – and unusual – opening ceremony on Friday 27th July with the help of 14 Royal Foresters who work for the Crown Estate Forestry team caring for the nearby Windsor Forests.
In an arboreal representation of a ribbon-cutting ceremony, Russell Sturgess, who has been a Royal Forester for over 44 years and is the longest serving member of the Crown Estate Forestry team – cut an eight-foot log in half with his chain saw.
Russell and his fellow foresters then presented General Manager, Malcolm Coulter, with a special commemorative plaque fashioned from Windsor oak.
The Royal Foresters’ General Manager, Malcolm Coulter, said: “We consider it a huge privilege for us to have our reopening honoured by this team of professional and genuine Royal Foresters from The Crown Estate Forestry team. The commemorative plaque will always be here to remind us of our close links to our pub’s heritage.”
A meeting place in the heart of Ascot, the 140-year-old Royal Foresters has been transformed following a £10m+ investment by independent pub group, Oakman Inns. It’s the company’s 23rd pub since it opened its first ten years ago. The re-opening, after three years, has been eagerly anticipated by the local community, who were fearful that they would lose a valuable local amenity when the site became tagged for a housing development. Their patience has been finally rewarded after the project was severely delayed by the adverse extremes in weather, although some “snagging” work will continue over the next two weeks on the hotel wing of this revitalised destination.
Open all day from breakfast until late, the pub, which has 24 brand new luxury guest rooms, and an 80-seat flexible function space adjacent to the restaurant, promises to be a first-class hospitality hub for the Ascot area.
The cosy fully restored original bar features two log fires while the restaurant has an open theatre-style kitchen where guests can watch Head Chef, Lee McMullen, and his brigade create both traditional British and Mediterranean-inspired dishes with a focus on fresh and seasonal ingredients. Outside, at the front of the building, known for its ancient Wisteria, guests can relax over a wide range of drinks (including craft beers from the local Windsor & Eton Brewery) in the freshly planted beer garden while the newly landscaped terrace provides al fresco dining for up to 80 guests.
Peter Borg-Neal, CEO of Oakman Inns, said: “The delays caused by the extremes in weather throughout the build have been very frustrating for everyone concerned and I would like to thank all our neighbours and friends who have had to put up with the building works over the last few months. I’m very proud of our brilliant 100 strong-team (pictured) lead by Malcolm Coulter who have worked so hard to be ready to welcome our first guests on Friday. This has been Oakman Inns’ largest investment to date and it’s been very encouraging to hear so many positive comments from the local community who have waited to get their pub back.”
Bracknell Forest Councillor, Dorothy Hayes MBE, said: “As a local, I’m delighted that the Royal Foresters has been brought back to life and is once again a community pub with something for everyone. What’s impressive is that outside, Oakman Inns has cleverly retained the pub’s historic facade – complete with the ancient Wisteria – but inside they’ve managed to combine a contemporary, industrial-style design with traditional elements to exceptional effect.”
Alan Carr MBE, Founder & CEO of The War Horse Memorial, added: “The countdown to the pub’s much anticipated re-opening whet the community’s appetite and the result of the truly imaginative transformation has certainly exceeded people’s expectations. Congratulations to everyone involved.”