Taking up Arms is a family affair for us

Samantha and Steve Vaughn with their son Will

Samantha and Steve Vaughn with their son Will

First published in Food Reviews Oxford Mail: Photograph of the Author by , covering theatre and food. Call me on 01865 425366

Starting Up with Samantha Vaughn @ The Abingdon Arms

Keep it in the family”! was the motto for our new team running the popular country pub and restaurant The Abingdon Arms, in Beckley.

I’m the manager, supported by my husband Steve, and our oldest son Will who is the head chef.

We’ve been talking about taking over our own pub for the past eight years but only started looking in earnest at Christmas.

Having looked at lots of pubs in the Thames Valley area, we fell in love with The Abingdon Arms, a country village pub in Beckley with stunning views across Otmoor, and decided to take it on as our first pub and restaurant.

Steve is a former sales director, but I’m experienced in the licensed trade and when we approached our son Will he snapped our hand off, having run busy pub kitchens in several local pubs, most recently the Red Lion in Evenley, near Brackley.

We took over The Abingdon Arms on July 28, and it’s been flat out.

I think Steve has wondered what he’s taken on at times because its been all hands to the pumps.

We shut for three days to get everything ready before we opened and threw away three skips full of rubbish.

The garden was really overgrown so my family came from Staffordshire and cleared it all up because the views are so amazing here.

Lots of the equipment didn’t work when we arrived – no ice maker, plate warmer or glass washer, but the place has been full regardless and we had to turn people away on Friday night, and have done 50 covers every Sunday lunch.

As for our plan, we want the pub to remain the centre of village life, and the hub of Beckley, a place where the village comes together, with lots of regular activities such as quiz nights, wine tastings and local music acts very much on the agenda.

From a restaurant perspective, we are aiming for pub classics, all home cooked, using locally sourced ingredients wherever possible. What makes it all worthwhile is the warm and positive reception we have received from our first customers and the locals, receiving some lovely comments, and many appreciative remarks about Will’s cooking, especially the Abingdon Arms Schnitzel, made from a flattened chicken breast, topped with Parma Ham, brie and breadcrumbs, and deep fried, or the very chocolately Nutella Cheesecake. We are also open to any constructive criticism, wanting to get everything just right.

We had no staff to begin with so had to rely on family, but we are training three people up and have cover for the bar and kitchen.

As for the future, there are still issues to cope with which are ongoing, but a tasteful remodelling of The Abingdon Arms is planned for the future, in keeping with the character and style of the pub, while adding more light and warmth.

Until then it’s all hands on deck, but I love the banter and the villagers who pop in and out to see how we are getting on.

It’s already better than we could have imagined.

TRY IT
The Abingdon Arms, High Street, Beckley.
01865 351311
abingdonarms.co.uk

  • Do you want alerts delivered straight to your phone via our WhatsApp service? Text NEWS or SPORT or NEWS AND SPORT, depending on which services you want, and your full name to 07767 417704. Save our number into your phone’s contacts as Oxford Mail WhatsApp and ensure you have WhatsApp installed.

Plenty to shout about - Lulu prepares for Cornbury performance

Oxford Mail:

10:00am Thursday 25th June 2015

After five decades in the business, Lulu is as excited as ever about her date at Cornbury Festival, she tells Tim Hughes

Making a noise about Boomtown festival

Oxford Mail:

5:34pm Wednesday 24th June 2015

Just when you think festival season can't get any better than the major players such as Glastonbury and I.O.W with their killer line-ups, and the smaller indie-style laid back festivals such as WOMAD, fledgling BoomTown Festival has finally taken off.

Chef’s Special recipe: Asparagus soldiers with soft boiled eggs

Oxford Mail:

10:00am Thursday 25th June 2015

Chef's Special with Peter Jones of 2 North Parade produce store, Oxford

Review: Standing ovation for a theatrical treat at Pierre Victoire

Oxford Mail:

10:00am Thursday 25th June 2015

In search of the perfect pre-show meal, Tim Hughes enjoys a great value taste of France, served with Gallic style and impressive efficiency

Starting Up: Ewe’ll be flocking to see cosy new look

Oxford Mail:

10:00am Thursday 25th June 2015

Starting Up with Rebecca Jones @ The Fleece, Witney

Sweet Tooth with Katherine MacAlister @ Hotel Chocolat

Oxford Mail:

10:00am Thursday 25th June 2015

Oxford's chocolate lovers wept collectively when The Covered Market’s Chocology shut down.

Teen Taste @ Mission Burrito, Oxford

Oxford Mail:

11:00am Thursday 18th June 2015

Where did you go?

Chef’s Special with Phil Currie at Killingworth Castle

Oxford Mail:

11:00am Thursday 18th June 2015

I APPLIED to join the navy as an engineer, but missed out so my father suggested that I apply as a chef since I was good at cooking at school and I have always loved eating. Here I am 22 years later, head chef at Killingworth Castle in Wootton.

'Stark, personal and accomplished': the extraordinary poetry of Frances Leviston

Oxford Mail:

2:56pm Wednesday 6th May 2015

Humphrey Astley talks to poet Frances Leviston who returns from an eight-year break with a new masterpiece

Send us your news, pictures and videos

Most read stories

Local Info

Enter your postcode, town or place name

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree