Harpenden pub reopens

Fresh start for recently revamped White Horse in Harpenden

ABOUT 200 people packed into a historic Harpenden pub last week to help celebrate its long-awaited reopening.

The White Horse, part of which dates back to the 1600s, has been “carefully refurbished” to restore it to its former glory said Lee Cash, co-founder of award-winning independent pub company Peach which has taken over the establishment.

Lee, who has been in charge of the pub’s revamp and training staff, said: “This really is a wonderful pub in a wonderful place and we’re so pleased to have got it.”

He added: “We know the pub has had a rocky time recently but with ten years of turning around previously failing pubs under our belt, we’re convinced our mix of quality food and drink, good value and great friendly service is the right one for the times we live in.”

“I have met a lot of local people and we have a great team, and I think it looks beautiful. We have enough history now to know when we get a project right.”

The White Horse is Peach’s 14th acquisition, further strengthening the firm’s presence in the home counties.

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Lee said: “Harpenden is one of the most attractively laid out market towns, so I was excited about this [acquisition].

“It features everything we like for a pub; beautiful character building, great outside area and a big car park. It ticks loads of boxes.”

The company has had plenty of experience turning the fortunes of ailing pubs around, with many of its stable acquired after they, like The White Horse, had closed, were under-performing, in receivership or under failed operators.

Lee, who once ran Raymond Blanc’s flagship brasserie, Le Petit Blanc in Birmingham, said: “I get very excited about these little hidden gems. That is my love of it, taking something from nothing and making it something.”

The White Horse features an old parquet floor, low ceiling beams in the bar, and a private dining room in the oldest part of the pub, which is located near West Common and the Harpenden Golf Club, off St Albans Road at Hatching Green.

The pub’s general manager is Harpenden born-and-bred Sam King who is “over the moon to be back after working away from home for a few years.” Sam has always worked in the food and drink industry and started his own chain of bars, Ghost. His passion for “mixology,” or mixing cocktails, earned him Theme magazine’s award for being one of the top movers and shakers in the industry.

Neal Sealey, head chef, has worked with Marco Pierre White at The Criterion and The Stafford Hotel in the heart of St James’s.