The King’s Arms Crowned Best Pub In Kent

9th April 2024
Paul Brooks

For the third year in a row, Contemporary Pubs, the family-owned Kent business, has seen one of its gastropub and freehouses crowned the ‘Kent pub of the year’ in a major national awards scheme.

The King’s Arms, the Grade-II listed 15th century pub at Elham, owned and managed by Contemporary Pubs, has taken the title in the National Pub & Bar Awards 2024.

The latest success means that each of the company’s three pubs have now won the Kent trophy with The King’s Arms following in the footsteps of The Tiger Inn at Stowting in 2022 and the Marquis of Granby at Alkham winning in 2023.

The King’s Arms reopened after a major refurbishment in September 2023, and now offers indoor dining for 70 covers and a further 64 outside on the new terrace and in its ‘secret garden’. Sitting in the heart of the village, it has become a popular destination for pub lovers and walkers, thanks to being located in the North Downs between Folkestone, Dover, Ashford and Canterbury.

Contemporary Pubs puts its success down to the hard work of the 25-strong team at The King’s Arms, led by General Manager, Will Thompson and Head Chef, Gareth Barber. Best described as gastrofood with a twist, The King’s Arms offers visitors locally sourced food, beer and wine, in an historic village setting.

Contemporary Pub’s Managing Director, Will Sheldon, born and bred in Elham, said: “Our business is all about pubs and for The King’s Arms to win a national award within just over six months of opening is testament to the whole team.

“We take unloved pubs, sensitively breathe life back into them and put them at the heart of the community. Critically important is having a team who are highly trained and motivated to deliver the best quality local food and drink offering.

“We are in a very competitive market, with people rightly being careful about where they go and what they spend, and this award will strengthen our already strong reputation across East Kent.”

Having purchased The King’s Arms from Stonegate Group in October 2022, the Contemporary Pubs undertook an internal and external refurbishment. The work included the extension of the pub and installation a state-of-the art electric powered kitchen, as well as back of house facilities essential to ensure its 25-strong team can deliver the highest quality food, drink and service.

Hugh Thompson, Contemporary Pubs’ Group Manager, added: “We’ve developed a business model that works. We’ve created three exceptional pubs, each with its own personality with a great atmosphere, and a fantastic team delivering consistently great food and service.

“We believe that this is the first time any small chain has won the county award for three consecutive years. We have created a strong team culture, helping us to retain the talent already in our business by promoting from within, while at the same time attracting new staff as the group grows.”

Tristan O’Hana, editor of Pub & Bar magazine, which runs the awards, added: “The fact that we had record entries for the 2024 National Pub & Bar Awards tells us two things.

“One is how highly the industry regards these accolades, which is fantastic. But, also, it shows that more operators are in need of really positive and strong publicity to help drive business at the moment. Pubs and bars are facing some of the biggest challenges in recent history, so if the National Pub & Bar Awards can help by lifting sales across these venues, then we’re delighted to play our part.”

The King’s Arms will now go head-to-head with the 94 county winners for the regional and national titles at the National Pub & Bar Awards Grand Final, on 26 June at 30 Euston Square, London.

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