Yorkshire's top chefs at the Star Inn and the Pipe and Glass gear up for indoor hospitality return as pubs prepare for a return to the warmth

They have battled the elements to serve customers eager to finally enjoy a meal they did not have to cook themselves.

Andrew Pern, who owns some of Yorkshire’s most famed eateries- The Star in Harome as well as Star Inn The City in York and Star In the Harbour in Whitby, is among many looking forward to something more akin to normality in his restaurants.

But a wet and chilly spring means restaurant owners and punters alike will breathe a sigh of relief come Monday when indoor hospitality is allowed to return.

Groups of up to six will once again be allowed to visit pubs, restaurants, and bars - and unlike last winter there will be no curfew, and no obligation to have a meal alongside a drink.

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Hospitality returned on April 12 but only in outdoor settings, meaning bars, pubs and restaurants were at the mercy of the weather, leading to thousands of disappointed punters and cancelled reservations.

The feelings of relief at re-opening indoors are shared by James Mackenzie, proprietor of the Michelin-starred The Pipe and Glass, at South Dalton near Beverley.

Andrew Pern who owns some of Yorkshire’s most famed eateries- The Star in Harome as well as Star Inn The City in York and Star In the Harbour in Whitby, is among many looking forward to something more akin to normality in his restaurants.

He said: “We’ve had a fantastic run outside but people have been wanting to have that fine-dining experience. It’s been really positive and everyone has really enjoyed it - so all it can do is get better.

“We didn’t lose any bookings over Bank Holiday - but we didn’t gain anymore, you don’t blame people for not coming out. The factor was the cold, the wet and the rain.

“Nobody cancelled - we’re proper hardy folk up North. We’ll be welcoming people back into the warmth.”

The Star in Harome has seen a swathe of bookings meaning customers wanting to visit on a weekend now face up to a three month wait.

But the restaurant group faced its own casualty in lockdown, the closing of Mr P’s Tavern - a much smaller establishment in York City Centre focussing on bar snacks.

It was a passion project for Mr Pern. He said: “We wanted to keep going but it was too small because of covid - you couldn’t get two staff behind the bar and working safely in the kitchen.

“Unfortunately with the rules in the place, it was not viable, and that’s a shame.”

The feelings of relief at re-opening indoors are shared by James Mackenzie, proprietor of the Michelin-starred The Pipe and Glass, at South Dalton near Beverley.

Mr Mackenzie said: “With the rain and everything, it’s been a bit hit and miss. People have still been coming out all dressed up and enjoying themselves, but when it’s so rainy it’s not fair on the staff.

“We’re excited to get going again, it’s been a long time coming. We’re busy doing stuff that we put on hold last year. Last year was about survival and this year is all about positivity.

“Bookings are crazy, restaurant wise and hotel wise. Fridays and Saturdays are booked up for the rest of the year.

Mr Mackenzie is mindful that as a well-established restaurant, the Pipe and Glass have a loyalty following that many beginners in the hospitality industry don’t have, and is keen to offer encouragement to smaller businesses.

He said: “It’s been a rollercoaster of emotions for us owning the business, but we’ve been here 15 years, borrowed money and got through. We’ve got a strong business but when we opened, a year after was the financial crash.

“Being able to offer a good quality service and food, as long as you stick to your guns, you will make it through because people will see that and want to want to come back and that's our premise. Anybody who comes in the door, we want them to leave happy, and wanting to return.”

It’s a feeling shared by John Pybus, landlord of York’s smallest pub, the Blue Bell on Fossgate.

Many of his regulars have missed the convival atmosphere of sharing a pint of cask ale indoors with family and friends.

He said: “We’re very much a community local pub, and trying to balance all of my regulars needs, as well as visitors is particularly challenging.

“A lot of my older customers haven't been in the pub for at least a couple of weeks before it was actually closed officially back in 2020, because they were getting worried about the virus already.

“Now we're all getting a second jabs, everyone's feeling much more confident about meeting back inside. So hopefully it's all going to come together.

“It’s been realised by everyone that if you don’t use pubs, you’ll lose them, and if you lose them you’ll really miss them.”