The Baker Arms is owned and run by husband and wife team James & Desi Hutchings who bought it in 2017.
How did you end up at The Baker Arms?
We have always worked in hospitality, notably at The Museum Inn in Farnham, The Cow in Poole, Westbeach in
Bournemouth, Odette’s in Primrose Hill, The Pig & Butcher in Islington, and Smokehouse in Highbury & Islington to name a few!
It was at Smokehouse that we both worked & met, and then eventually moved back to Dorset. We had always thought of having our own place after 20+ years of working for other people. We randomly found the pub
online (and on the market!), it ticked lots of boxes, so we went for it and we’ve now been here 3 years.
What’s your favourite local place to visit on an afternoon off?
We don’t afford ourselves much time off in normal circumstances, however we enjoy eating at The Fontmell when we can, or clambering up Hambledon hill with our dog Smokey. Tell us about your 2020… Lockdown 1 last spring was tough but it did enable us to make small improvements around the pub, with much of our attention focused on
our beer garden, before what proved to be a busy summer – thankfully. The second lockdown & then Tier 2 proved much more challenging to come out of and we only re- opened in mid-December with a much reduced offering and
limited hours. And now here we are again – closed except for a Takeaway Roast on a Sunday. What’s been your biggest challenge since taking over – apart from COVID, obviously! Our biggest challenge actually resulted from a Motorcycle accident that James was involved in, in May 2019. James’s left arm was shattered and he had to be air lifted to Southmead Hospital. Following 2 surgeries, the recovery is still ongoing. So, James learned to cook one handed! Its tough, but you learn to adapt and just get on with it. It has definitely added to Desi’s work load though.
What are you most proud of?
The fact that people keep coming back again and again, and in some cases from quite a distance, encourages us that we are really providing a great environment & service for our customers.
What part of the pub is your absolute favourite?
The pub is Grade II listed, however our favourite has to be our cosy little holiday letting cottage. ‘Daisy cottage’ is just behind the pub and is really popular with leisure guests who come to roam the countryside or guests visiting families & friends who live locally. The pub is beautiful, and we will always maintain its traditional charm & character. You can’t beat sitting in front of our wood burner on a winter’s evening… with a pint of course. We are led to believe that there is an old tunnel that leads under the pub to our neighbouring church…
Which dish is your most popular?
Ironically (and substantial jokes aside), our homemade Scotch egg is pretty popular, and will always remain on the menu! We always keep our menu very different to other pubs, with big, bold flavours and often classics with a twist. Our menu is always kept small, because its always evolving, freshly prepared & homemade with an emphasis on comfort. Our homemade ice creams are pretty popular too.
What’s next – do you have big plans on the horizon?
We put up a temporary marquee over the summer which proved popular. We have since replaced it with a strong permanent marquee with long tables, benches & heaters. This gives us a bit more capacity year round whatever the weather.
And right now?
Normally as we hit January our attention turns to our yearly charity event ‘Pheasant Fest’. This event has now been going for over 10 years, and is our focus in February. The event raises much needed funds for the Dorset & Somerset air ambulance, who we support year round. We have yet to decide upon a date for 2021 due to Covid-19 restrictions. However, we still intend/hope to run the event, possibly in June 2021. Otherwise, we’re simply focused
on being fully open, and driving the business forward without the Covid handbrake on?! The ability to plan beyond a few days in 2020 has been almost impossible with the Covid-19 restrictions.