Top gastropub rises from the ashes after devastating fire

By Nikkie Sutton

- Last updated on GMT

Loyal: licensee David Salisbury has praised the Alford Arms’ regulars for coming back after the fire
Loyal: licensee David Salisbury has praised the Alford Arms’ regulars for coming back after the fire

Related tags: The ashes

A pub that was voted the best gastropub in Britain by The Times has reopened after a devastating fire and the licensee has praised loyal locals for returning. 

Husband-and-wife team David and Becky Salisbury reopened the Alford Arms in Fristhsden, Hertfordshire, at the end of August​.

David said: “Seeing all those loyal people coming back in from day one was wonderful.

“It seems to have reinforced people’s love of the pub as they have missed it.”

Double-edged sword

He added: “We thought we may lose a few customers but actually, we don’t seem to have.”

However, Salisbury admitted there were some difficulties with having the grand reopening in the summer.

He said: “We opened in fantastic weather, which was a double-edged sword.

 “It was great because it was really busy but trying to cope [with the number of customers] was challenging – but we got through it.”

Salisbury explained that the fire, caused by hot towels that had spontaneously combusted after coming out of the tumble drier​, had the positive effect of forcing the Enterprise Inns-owned pub into being relaunched.

Evolution rather than revolution

He said: “We have been around for 18 years now so to have the chance to relaunch and do.

“Everything we have been meaning to do has made it work better for us and the customers.”

However, he was keen to emphasis there were no huge differences despite the £400,000 renovation of the pub.

Salisbury added: “We revamped the interior and exterior, and added some technology such as the online booking system.

“It’s evolution rather than revolution and we like that.”

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