Owner of 16th century country pub in Yorkshire on why he decided to open new business during pandemic

Sitting in the 16th century pub which he runs with his family, Dave Matthews admits that a decision to open the venue amid the coronavirus pandemic may have appeared foolhardy to many.

Dave and Maggie Matthews, and daughter Rose, and Rose’s fiancé Jack, who opened The Staveley Arms in August last year amid the pandemic.
Dave and Maggie Matthews, and daughter Rose, and Rose’s fiancé Jack, who opened The Staveley Arms in August last year amid the pandemic.

The Staveley Arms in North Stainley, near Ripon, was launched as a new venture in August last year, during a respite from the lockdowns which have been enforced to tackle the spread of Covid-19.Mr Matthews and his wife, Maggie, along with their 21-year-old daughter, Rose, and her fiancé, Jack Baldwin, 20, have once again been able to serve food and drink to customers with the easing of restrictions this week.

However, he told The Yorkshire Post that the past eight months have been among the most challenging times in his long career in hospitality, which has included stints in America and France.

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Mr Matthews said: “Some people may have thought we were mad to re-open the pub during the pandemic, which has caused such major problems for the hospitality industry. It has been a big challenge, as we have had to adapt in such a short space of time.

"But we saw The Staveley Arms as a really good opportunity and we have been so well supported by the local community, who really do see the pub at the heart of the village.”

While the pub itself has remained closed during the lockdowns, the business has been transformed into an “at home” service, providing locals with meals to heat and serve at home, including specials for Mothers’ Day and Easter. Takeaway fish and chips have also been offered on Fridays.

The pub’s beer garden, which can accommodate 80 customers, re-opened on Monday for the first time when restrictions eased. But The Staveley Arms will only be opening from Thursday to Sunday each week until May 17, when pubs and restaurants are due to be allowed to once again serve customers inside.