Kings Bar & Bistro opened in December 1999 in a modern building situated next to the level crossing operated by the Dean Forest Railway. 278 people were present at the launch. It was the brainchild of Dean James, managing director of the Fine Dining Company. Kings Bar was his second venture, after purchasing the Classic Restaurant in Chepstow. Kings Bar & Bistro was a fifty-seat private restaurant, complete with a separate oak fitted bar leading off to a screened-off upper and lower lounge area. The concept was to provide reasonable restaurant prices and an affordable range of drinks, served in pleasant surroundings. The interior design was created by David Burgess who aimed to create contrast throughout the premises, with the aim of generating a great atmosphere within each individual area. The restaurant menu was created by Wayne Michael Leadon., who had won the accolade of Welsh Chef of the Year. The Kings Bar focused on entertainment on Friday’s and Saturday’s, with live music.
In May 2001 the restaurant was given a change of identity to Hungry Henry’s at Kings Bar. On the menu was Six Wives Grill for £15.95 and ‘Sir Lion of Beef’, a 16 oz steak for £16.95. Six years later businessman Dean James was seeking a chef to transform Kings Bar into the best gastro-bar in the Forest of Dean. He organised a cook-off competition on July 28th 2007 with the intention of attracting ‘the next Gordon Ramsay’, placing an advert in the local newspaper asking ‘Can you put the f-word in the Forest? – a town centre bistro-bar untraded in food but excellent wet sales would like to break into the food market. We require a Head Chef.’ The incentive was the provision of ‘Your own kitchen to produce your own income, to go into your own pocket’. Dean Gaffney, of ‘Eastenders’ and ‘I’m a Celebrity’ fame was one of the judges and Gordon Ramsay sent his message of support.
The Fine Dining Company held an emergency meeting for its creditors in May 2007. By February 2010 the Kings Bar had a new owner. Douglas Smith from Scotland started his career in the police, but he had around 27 years running pubs in Germany and Spain. He had experience in running music events and was a competent DJ. Douglas hoped to expand the range od Scotch whiskies at the bar and offer a carvery on Sundays. However, the venture was short-lived and the premises had closed by the Spring.
The bar was relaunched as the Road House in June 2010. Marcus Huyton, then aged 19, persuaded his father Ian to go into business with him. Marcus said, “I had never really thought about working in a pub or bar before, but I rang my Dad when I saw that King’s had closed and asked him if he’d be interested in running it with me. The World Cup is on at the moment and we’re showing all the games which is helping, and we are going to push it as a venue too. We have our own PA system now, and microphones, and we want to get bands in here on most weekends.” By August the Road House was becoming known as the Forest of Dean’s premier music venue.
Tragically Ian Huyton died on Christmas Eve 2010. He was only 48. He died from ischemic hypertensive heart disease. His daughter Leanne said, “He did not have a heart attack, his heart just took its last beat and stopped.” Determined to carry on Marcus said, “[Dad and I] were determined to make it work before, but now it has to happen. I have to make the bar into what it could have been in memory of my Dad. It’s going to be hard but all the staff and customers have been brilliant.”
The Road House finally closed in January 2012. Marcus posted on the pub’s Facebook page: ‘As some of you are already aware we have decided to call it a day at the Road House. This is a sad day for all of us but this isn’t where the parties end. We would like to thank everyone who has helped out, supported us through everything and basically just being you. We love you all, it wouldn’t have been the same without you.’
In September 2013 an application for change of use from licensed premises [The Kings Bar] to offices was submitted to Forest of Dean District Council.