ONE of Yorkshire’s finest eateries is toasting a bright future after gaining a new owner.
The serial entrepreneur Jonathan Turner has acquired The Yorke Arms, one of Yorkshire’s six Michelin starred restaurants, from the leading chef, Frances Atkins, for an undisclosed sum.
Ms Atkins, the country’s first female chef to win a Michelin star in 2003, will stay on at the 18th century coaching house by the river Nidd in Ramsgill with her team, including general manager, John Tullett, head chef, Roger Olive and Kirsty Beverley who looks after housekeeping.
Mr Turner, CEO of The Bayford Group and owner of hospitality venue, Bowcliffe Hall, will start a refurbishment programme at the The Yorke Arms, which is on the site of an 11th century monastic cheesery.
The Yorke Arms went on the market in the summer for offers in the region of £1.75m.
A spokesman said: “The purchase highly complements the entrepreneur’s stable of businesses which span the oil, gas, energy, property, hospitality and wedding sectors.”
Mr Turner said: “I have always admired the drive and talent of Frances who is respected for her culinary creativity and is a champion of local, seasonal produce.
“We share a collective passion to further enrich and enhance Yorkshire’s rich heritage and I’m looking forward to working closely with her and her talented team.”
Mr Turner said he decided to buy The Yorke Arms after seeing an article about its planned sale in The Yorkshire Post.
Mr Turner said he planned to “work some magic” on the interior.
Ms Atkins, a fellow of the Masterchefs of Great Britain, and one of only six female Michelin starred chefs in the UK, said: “We were all set to embark for pastures new, but Jonathan’s deep rooted love of Yorkshire, his style and panache are very infectious and it really struck a chord with me.
“He has a genuine enthusiasm to create something even more special here and we hit it off straight away.
“I am thrilled to be part of his new team as we set out to deliver new, exciting plans for The Yorke Arms.”
Specialist hotel consultancy Lambert Smith Hampton (LSH), took the property to market.
Alistair Greenhalgh, the director from LSH who headed up the sale, said: “Like The Bayford Group, there are a number of investors actively looking for opportunities for country house venues like The Yorke Arms, due to the increased appetite in the staycation market.
“We wish Jonathan and Frances all the very best for the future and feel sure the business will go from strength to strength.”
The site became a coaching inn when the Yorke family disposed of their lands and properties.
Frances and her husband Bill became the owners in 1996.
Ms Atkins, who hails from Ilkley, began her career as an apprentice at the town’s Box Tree restaurant. Despite its critical acclaim, the restaurant may be best known for its supporting role, alongside comics Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon, in the BBC2 series The Trip, which was seen by 1.2m people in 2010.
“That was a great experience, ” Ms Atkins said recently. “People are still coming here to visit us because they have seen that.”
The bestowal of a coveted star marks out the establishment as among the very best places to eat and drink in the country.