Beer and pub column

ANDY Smith leapt into the unknown, but seems to have made the right choice.

After four years at The Buck Inn at Wrelton, at the foot of the North York Moors, he had built up a solid customer base and a successful business.

So it took guts to up sticks and move to a pub that had been empty for almost six years.

But that’s what he did and so far, so good.

York Press:

Andy Smith, pictured previously at his former pub, The Buck Inn

Two miles along the A170, he is now behind the bar at The Middleton Arms in Middleton, just west of Pickering.

“It had closed in September 2010, and I had been looking at it for some time,” says Andy. “My long-term goal when my lease was up at The Buck was to move here.”

The move happened a little sooner than he envisaged. He and the owner at The Buck didn’t see eye to eye on a couple of issues, he says, and the owners of the empty Middleton Arms also had a slight change in circumstances, so he was able and happy to bring forward the move.

York Press:

The result is certainly good news for North Yorkshire pub-goers, with The Buck remaining open under new management and this place, which had been shut for so long, bouncing back into life.

York Press:

After a lot of work on the building, aided by local villagers, it reopened in April and has re-established itself locally, serving food six nights a week (daily except Monday), and hosting four darts and two dominoes teams.

Andy says the position of the pub is ideal, and he is confident it will do well, following a similar model as The Buck did under his watch.

“I could not work out why this would not be a good location,” he says. “A lot of my locals at Wrelton were from here so I have brought some of them here as well. I also did a survey of the holiday lets and there is a huge amount of demand.”

My wife, son and I headed along a few Sundays ago and I was impressed. There were decent real ales on the bar (from Theakston’s, Timothy Taylor’s and Wold Top) and the menu boasted the sort of heartening, hearty pub fare that you expect in North Yorkshire village pubs. My Sunday lunch was excellent: the roast pork tender, the veg generous, the Yorkshire pudding vast and the beer well-kept.

The pub has a lot of potential, capturing not only business from in and around Pickering but also for anyone passing on the busy A170, which runs from Scarborough to Thirsk.

Down the line Andy plans to push a local game menu, with game pie, local sausages and a range of other options, all reflecting a loyalty to local produce and a determination to put this little village pub back on the map.