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FRIDAY FLAVOR: King’s Arms Tavern in Colonial Williamsburg

The food, the experience, and the potential to encounter a ghost make King’s Arms Tavern a must on your dining bucket list.

WILLIAMSBURG, Va. — Colonial Williamsburg is no stranger to history. Locals and tourists visit to step back in time to the 18th century and experience history in the present. 

The attractions are endless in the area, but for dinner many go to King’s Arms Tavern. Jane Vobe opened the tavern in 1772. It was known as a place where some of the richest and most prestige stayed during that time. 

“It’s about telling a story and King’s Arms story is one of gentry,” says Keith Nickerson the Director of Culinary for Historic Food and Beverage. 

“For King’s Arms Tavern it is a chophouse 18th-century experience. It's something you’re not going to get anywhere else in Williamsburg or frankly anywhere,” he adds.

The original tavern burned down and was rebuilt to almost exact specifications in the 1950s. 

Now, in 2020 when dining, you are experiencing the food that takes you back to what would’ve been served in the 18th century. The most popular thing on the menu is a moderate interpretation of Virginia Peanut Soup. This is a soup that was beloved during colonial times because Virginia was rich with peanuts. 

The dining experience comes with all the bells and whistles. Each worker dressed in 18th-century garb and in character while serving you.

The servers' have a vast knowledge of Colonial Williamsburg sharing different stories with customers. The story you hear, and the history you learn, differ depending on which room in the tavern you dine in. 

“Every room in the tavern has a story to tell,” says Nickerson

The room 13NewsNow dined in has an eerie twist, it’s believed to be haunted by a woman named, Irna.

Nickerson says he tries not to come up to the room by himself because of the scary and notable things that multiple people have experienced. Irna was a tavern manager in the 1950s and the first manager to actually live in the building. 

The tale goes that workers hadn’t seen Irna for days. So, they went upstairs, peered through the keyhole, and found her dead. Now, it’s believed Irna haunts the building. 

“A lot of the servers and staff say that you have to really greet the ghost and acknowledge them. If you don’t, they will cause a little bit of mischief,” says Nickerson. 

Greeting Irna doesn’t always stop her from causing a ruckus. Workers have seen a face in the bathroom mirror or heard footsteps across the tavern. 

The most notable story is that servers will blow out the candles on their table at the end of the night, but somehow the candles become lit again. Managers say that they will check every room before they leave, then they walk outside and see a candle burning in Irna’s window.

Some say they’ve seen the whole room lit up as if multiple candles were lit; but when they run upstairs to check on the candles, they are snuffed out. 

Irna is now known as a permanent resident of the tavern, with some customers coming to eat just to see if they can meet her. 

The food, the experience, and the potential to encounter a ghost make King’s Arms Tavern a must on your dining bucket list. You can go for a casual date night or a full weekend getaway. If you’re feeling extra brave, schedule a ghost tour of Colonial Williamsburg before your dinner. 

King’s Arms Tavern is located at 416 E Duke of Gloucester Street in Colonial Williamsburg.