Now the husband and wife owners of the intimate and cosy Monkman’s Restaurant in Ilkely are set to say “au revoir” – and begin a new chapter in their lives.
Michael Monkman and his French-born wife Joelle have run Monkman’s in Cunliffe Road for 11 years, and turned it from a restaurant specialised in fish dishes to offer a broad selection of European-inspired dishes.
However, now the time has come for the popular couple to hand over the baton, and start a new life in the south of France.
Michael, 58, said: “There are definitely mixed feelings about leaving because we’ve both loved running the restaurant. We’ll both miss it.
“But it is time for us to take a step back and just enjoy retirement.”
The couple’s decision was sparked by a health scare which saw Joelle, 55, battling breast cancer.
She is now well, however it prompted the couple to rethink the demands of running the restaurant, which currently opens five days and evenings a week.
The restaurant, which seats 48 and includes a cocktail bar, hi tech commercial kitchen with walk-in cold room, first floor wine store and second floor directors’ office, has now gone on the market for sale.
Michael said the restaurant is packed with potential for the right buyer – and whoever takes over can look forward to good times as well as a good business.
“Running a restaurant can be hard work, but it’s also a lot of fun,” he said.
“There’s such a good atmosphere here. It is like a party atmosphere every single night, and I love to see people enjoying themselves.
“I’d say around 80 per cent of customers are regulars, they come here week after week and you get to really know them and look forward to seeing them.”
Michael originally had other plans – he studied construction at Leeds Polytechnic. But a part-time pub job turned at the time turned out to be so enjoyable, that he decided to focus on the hospitality sector instead.
Michael travelled to France where he worked on board a private yacht, and then began working in French restaurants.
He was working in France when he met Joelle, who comes from the Languedoc region. The couple returned to Michael’s native Yorkshire after his cousin revealed plans to sell his fish restaurant – which the couple decided to turn into Monkman’s.
The restaurant boasts an extensive wine list and specialises in fresh fish which is delivered daily, plus French and European style meat, game, poultry and vegetarian dishes.
The restaurant now regularly hosts around 30 diners for lunch and up to 40 for dinner – rising to 60 to 70 at weekends – and achieves an impressive weekly turnover of Â£10,000.
Whoever takes over could have the opportunity to extend the premises if they want to; the premises are held on a secure lease, sensible rent and offer spacious restaurant facilities with potential for expansion.
It will be ready to walk straight into too – the sale includes the quirky furnishings, the modern kitchen and stock, that’s valued at Â£7,000. Plus there is a loyal and trusted staff already in place – including the head chef who has been serving up quality dishes at the restaurant for over nine years.