October 27, 2020
By: Mrinalini Sundar
The King’s Arms, located in Downtown Oakville, is not just a great restaurant for some juicy burgers (it won Visit Oakville’s Best Burgers Talk of the Town Award), it also comes with an incredibly interesting past. As someone who is both a history and food enthusiast, I decided to explore The King’s Arms this weekend and transport myself to Oakville of the past. Walking into this restaurant I felt like being transported to the Victorian era. This big burnished bar has dark domestic wood interiors, raw wood walls, old-style lamps, walls decked up with paintings of celebrities and inviting staff that makes you feel at home.
The King’s Arms was one of the first pubs established in Oakville, coming to existence in the 1970s under the name The Duke of Bedford.
According to the plan of the Town of Oakville, the building that holds The King’s Arms was said to be owned by Captain William Wilson, whose family were among the first settlers in Oakville. The Duke of Bedford existed in the 70s, after which the pub was called the Manchester Arms. In fact, it is believed that the pub has changed close to five to six hands in total.
It was a hotspot for those who just wanted to walk in, chug a couple of drinks, and have a good time. Current co-owner Rob o’Donovan says that The King’s Arms still possess the exact same layout that it had in the 70s, the floor plan, some bits of the foundations, basement and the exterior of the building. The interiors were very different to what it is today, however. We are talking red velvet benches, fancy yet ancient carpets and some dim lighting. The highlight at the restaurant is a secret manual dumbwaiter in the kitchen that existed when the pub was still called The Duke Of Bedford. Rob and his team still have it and it forms an important part of the history of the place.
The building went through a series of renovations and changes when Rob and his partner Angelo Triant took ownership of the pub. Since then, they have worked hard to maintain the essence, character and feel of a British pub. Rob says, “We wanted to retain the pub scene but take a more gastro direction and so we got the décor changed. We wanted to attract the newer clientele and so we hired designers and graffiti artists who gave the interiors a good twist.”
Rob says that some folks can still walk into the pub and identify certain corners and reminisce the good times they had there in their youth. One such corner is in The Lion’s Den. The windows at this corner have been preserved from the restaurant’s time as The Manchester Arms.
Though the building might hold a lot of history, the food is definitely a modern-day feature. With most dishes being made in-house from fresh materials, you can expect to indulge in elevated pub fare, Asian fusion and healthy salads.
If you are looking to visit the history pages of Oakville with food by your side, then The King’s Arms is where you need to head.