On February 6, 1772, Mrs. Jane Vobe placed the following advertisement in the Virginia Gazette.
"I have just opened TAVERN opposite to the Raleigh at the
sign of the KING's ARMS....and shall be much obliged to the
Gentlemen who favour me with their company.''
Those who visit Colonial Williamsburg today can have a somewhat similar dining experience as the men who read that ad on that 18th century morning by stopping by the King's Arms Tavern, located at 416 Duke of Gloucester Street, during their trip to the city.
While some of the menu items were inspired by colonial recipes, many of them have been modified somewhat. Still some of the names, such as Mrs. Vobe's Peanut Soup, Colonial Game Pye, which includes venison, rabbit and duck, and A Dish of Lamb come straight from the colonial tavern menu.
The menu items have taken on a life of their own in a way and a quick internet search will yield the recipes for many of the food choices that are found at the King's Arms Tavern.
The dycor was influenced by artifacts found on site and by items listed on an insurance policy for the tavern from the 1700's. The tableware and the furniture are reproductions of colonial pieces and the wait staff is made up of costumed interpreters who will share tidbits of life in the real colonial Williamsburg while guests enjoy their meals.
Even the smallest details, such as pewter salt and pepper shakers, brass wall sconces and framed prints are included to give the tavern a look that is as close to what it would have been in 1772 as is possible.
Many visitors said they found that the experience felt like they had stepped back in time. A woman who was visiting from California said that the King's Arm Tavern was "extremely charming and fabulously authentic''
While most of the visitors seem to agree on that point, some found the menu items to be a bit overpriced, but added that they were paying not just for the food, but for the experience as well.
There is a rumor about a ghost that resides at the tavern. Irma, so the story goes, was killed in a fire. This low-key apparition is not spotted very often, but many have attested to having seen her or felt her near. Another rumor says that the staff of the King's Arms Tavern always say goodnight to their guest Irma when they lock up for the night.
The King's Arm Tavern is today run as a not for profit enterprise and all of the revenue from the restaurant, outside of operating costs, go to fund the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation's educational programs.