A NEW 'dream team' have taken over a historic pub near Oxford that was saved by villagers.

The group are now running the Abingdon Arms at Beckley and have pledged to improve the service while keeping the pub open seven days a week.

The ‘dream team of three’ are general manager Zuzana Minichova, head chef Alex Dumitrache and sommelier Victoria Macpherson.

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They were announced on November 1 by The Beckley and Area Community Benefit Society which bought the pub in 2016 and has looked after it since.

Ms Macpherson, who will run public relations and social media for the Abingdon Arms, said: "Together, the three of us aim to bring some new flavours and atmosphere to Beckley and its surrounding community.

Oxford Mail:

"We aim to run the Abingdon Arms for the local community and for customers from further afield who value a country pub which offers good food, good drink, and good company.”

Freshly appointed general manager Zuzana Minichova not only has 20 years of experience in hospitality, but prides herself with local references: for past 10 years she was the general manager at The Bell, a five-star rated, nine-bedroomed boutique hotel in Hampton Poyle, north of Oxford.

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Head chef Alex Dumitrache, meanwhile, has two AA Rosettes accreditations and he can brag about cooking during the 2012 Olympics and for Richard Branson.

He specialises in fish dishes using techniques he mastered while working in France.

He said: “I want to create high-quality menus in a traditional pub environment in the heart of the countryside by bringing local, fresh produce – and not charge an arm and a leg for a good meal.”

Victoria Macpherson’s main task will be to revamp the drinks offering.

The new management pledged to ‘source the supplies locally when possible’ to push the pub’s operation to the next level needed to keep in line with the expectations of the customers.

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Announced innovations include development of new food menus (including vegetarian, vegan and fish options as well as a new low-cost menu on weekdays).

Changes behind the bar will be focused around local craft ales.

Oxford Mail:

New tenants will work with most of the pub’s current staff while providing training for both the front of house and kitchen employees and The Abingdon Arms will be open seven days a week.

In 2016, the pub was on the verge of closure when previous owners Brakspear said they would not refurbish the place.

The 17th century historic inn was saved by the community, who established a new body and raised more than a half a million of pounds from 280 investors in two months.

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Investors’ money allowed the community to take over the pub in January 2017. The place was subsequently refurbished by a team of more than a hundred of local volunteers.

The effort paid off hugely: not only does Beckley still have a place to enjoy a pint, but in 2018 The Abingdon Arms won the title of ‘the best community pub in the country’.