Much-loved village pub The Horse and Groom in Caulcott, which survived lockdown only to be hit by devastating floods on Christmas Eve, will re-open tonight for takeaways.

Landlords Jerome and Stacey Prigent spent the first six weeks of the March lockdown deep cleaning and decorating their pub near Bicester, remodelling the bar and making plans for the rest of the year.

But on Christmas Eve the Horse and Groom’s bar and restaurant flooded with water, ruining the carpets and wood panelling, and it could take up to 12 weeks to repair the damage.

Flood damage

Luckily however, the kitchen was unscathed and from tonight Jerome will be cooking and once again takeaway orders will be flying out.

Stacey said: “We were very much taken by surprise, as there was no sign of the pub flooding on the evening of December 23, which was the day when the rain actually fell.

before the flood

“We came down on Christmas Eve morning to go and help villagers who’d been flooded, and the bar and restaurant were filled with water. We’ve had the carpets ripped out and dehumidifiers and fans are currently drying the place out.”

Stacey added: “The restoration could take 8-12 weeks, but it could be longer with the Covid situation.”

“The support of our local community has been amazing and humbling”

Stacey and Jerome at last year’s Ox In A Box Food Awards with Raymond Blanc

Not that 2020 was an easy year. Stacey added: “The first lockdown was so difficult to gauge; we didn’t know how long it would go on for, but when we realised it was a longer-term prospect we started our takeaway service which was incredibly popular.

During Tier 2 , their six tables meant they could be fully booked with just 12 customers

“The support of our local community has been amazing and humbling. So many people are ordering every week. They want to help us, they want us to come through the other side of this terrible situation,” Stacey reiterates. 

The flooded bar

The impact of the lockdown has been huge on the hospitality industry, and The Horse and Groom is no exception. During Tier 2 , their six tables meant they could be fully booked with just 12 customers.

However, despite their misfortune, Stacey and Jerome say they are in a better position than most. Stacey added: “We have no staff on our books who are relying on us for their income and as it’s just Jerome and I, we can be flexible. 

Jerome at work in the kitchen

“We have had financial support from the government, but it has been incredibly frustrating to be put in the same category as a city centre bar, because we have taken the social distancing rules very seriously and think it’s much safer here than many environments that were allowed to remain open.”

However, when The Horse and Groom could resume properly, December was disappointingly quiet. “It’s usually such a busy time before Christmas, but because of the tier 2 rules, that just didn’t happen,” Stacey says.

Sausages are a speciality at The Horse and Groom

The couple were then considering whether it would be worth opening in January, when the flood hit. So now takeaway is the only option.

“We resume takeaway service this weekend as luckily the kitchen was not affected by the flood,” Stacey says.

“I can feel a general shift towards supporting local, independent businesses at a time like this. This has been crucial to us during this very difficult time, and we are incredibly grateful”

So if you fancy some pate de champagne with homemade piccalili and toasted sourdough, winter vegetable chowder, roasted guineafowl, seared sea trout, burgers, the infamous sausage selection, or a Sunday roast, and so much more, just go to https://www.horseandgroomcaulcott.co.uk/menu

READ OUR 2021 TAKEAWAY GUIDE HERE: https://www.oxinabox.co.uk/top-60-oxfordshires-definitive-2021-takeaway-guide-eat-like-a-god-and-support-your-local-cafes-pubs-and-restaurants/

The Horse and Groom in better times

And as for the rest of 2021, Stacey said: “We’re not making any plans. We take each week as it comes and adapt accordingly. But I can feel a general shift towards supporting local, independent businesses at a time like this. This has been crucial to us during this very difficult time, and we are incredibly grateful.”

READ OUR 2021 SUNDAY ROAST TAKEAWAY GUIDE HERE: https://www.oxinabox.co.uk/our-new-2021-roast-takeaway-guide-get-ordering-and-support-your-local-restaurants-and-pubs/

The Horse and Groom takeaway can be found here: https://www.horseandgroomcaulcott.co.uk/menu

Takeaway Opening Hours are Fri & Sat: 6-8pm and Sun: 12-2pm or order Jerome’s bake at home croques monsieur.

The Horse and Groom, Caulcott, 01869 343257

SARAH EDWARDS

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