The Berkeley Arms: A pub at the heart of its community
By Bobby Twidale
Since taking over The Berkeley Arms in Wymondham just over a year ago, Dipak Raxit, or ‘Kumar’ as he prefers to be known, has quickly established himself and his traditional village pub as the beating heart of the local community.
He’d be first to admit it wasn’t an easy start; losing a chef in the first few days of trading was not part of the plan. He’s proven himself more than equal to the challenge though. He’ll tell you he and his team, all locals, are still learning every day and he’s proud that the food and service are getting better and better.
In a rural environment where community facilities can be limited, the pub becomes the hub of the community. Actions speak louder than words and so one of Kumar’s first initiatives was to establish a Village Night on a Monday evening where for just £10 you could enjoy a meal and a drink. It has been a big hit with locals with most Mondays fully booked! And what Kumar instinctively gets is that the more you’re involved with the community, the more they will support you in return. “The pub is not mine,” he insists, “it belongs to everyone.”
He’s developing a reputation for great food that people want to eat; he really listens when his customers tell him what they want. You mention you’re a fan of fresh seafood and the next week razor clams will appear on the menu. Good value, tasty pub grub more your cup of tea? You’ll probably like a burger and pint for a tenner then.
Best laid plans and all that…
None of us saw the Coronavirus crisis coming, did we? But true to character, Kumar’s main motivator is his extended family, the local community. His first reaction of course was devastation for his business and team of colleagues after a year of hard graft, but he’s quickly put aside those feelings to focus on how The Berkeley Arms can continue to be there through these unprecedented circumstances.
He started by giving away all of his surplus stock to the villagers and then put out a takeaway and home delivery menu. However, he’s since drawn that to a close to encourage as many people to stay at home as possible, although he’s working out how to provide free meals for those in the village who need them.
“It’s a new world,” he says. And you can be sure Kumar will be there doing whatever it takes to help his community navigate the challenges that lie ahead.
And when it’s all over? The Berkeley Arms team will have a warm welcome, some great food and a nice pint waiting for you.