A pub at the heart of village community has always held a special place in Jason Gutteridge’s heart and since becoming its owner just over six years ago he has strived to keep it as a second home for its customers.

The Villiers Arms is situated at 108 Villers Road, Oxhey, and is the first business the Watford Observer is profiling in support of Watford Borough Council’s ‘Shop Local’ campaign, encouraging people to shop and eat local this Christmas.

Jason, who owns the pub with his father Garry, said: “I have a background in hospitality and always wanted to own this particular pub and I was approached by the old landlord and landlady who invited me to buy when they were ready to sell. For me, it was an absolute no brainer.

“My granddad used to drink in this pub and I used to drink in it as well so it has a special place in my heart. To own a business right in the heart of a close-knit community is really special.”

Watford Observer: The Villiers ArmsThe Villiers Arms (Image: Jason Gutteridge)

Jason has “tried to improve the offerings of the pub whilst retaining its charm and character” since taking over the business and is “always happy to help our customers however we can”.

“We have one particular couple who have their own reserved seating in the Snug area near the fire,” he explained. “They come in every day and we feel it is a perk for them to not have to battle for seats on a busy evening.

“If customers want a particular drink that we don’t stock, we simply order it in for them! This is one of the benefits of not being tied to any brewery.

“The majority of customers treat the pub as if it were their own front room. We put roast potatoes out on the bar on a Sunday for customers to help themselves.

“As we don’t serve food we have to think of different ideas to increase the amount of time customers spend in the pub.”

Watford Observer: A view of the Oxhey pubA view of the Oxhey pub (Image: Watford Borough Council)

The owner admits times are tough, but is organising music nights once a month to try and increase custom and is also hoping to introduce “some sort” of food offering in the New Year.

Asked about his plans for the business, Jason responded: “I think for now we need to ride the storm until things pick up again.

“I would like over the next few years to invest in the pub; fix the shed in the garden, improve the garden, replace the doors and windows.

“We have definitely noticed a change in our customer base over the past six years and I think we will need to adapt to the changing customer base in order to stay successful.”

The pub’s staff will have a vital role to play in any future changes but Jason has no doubts they will continue to do their best to make the Villers as successful as possible.

He said: “We have fantastic staff who are great at what they do and most have either worked at the pub for years or are sons and daughters of our customers so everyone has a vested interest in making the pub a happy and enjoyable place.

“The Villiers really is our customers’ home away from home. Everyone knows everyone but new customers are always greeted with a smile and a warm welcome.”

The Watford Observer supports businesses throughout the year with our ‘Your Favourite’ competitions giving readers the chance to nominate and then vote for their favourite barbers, hairdressers, pubs and restaurants.

We also support businesses through our ongoing Love Local Business campaign launched during the Covid pandemic.

If your business has won an award or has an extraordinary story to tell email michael.adkins@newsquest.co.uk