Beer & pub column

WHAT a difference a couple of years can make.

Two years ago this month, manager May Cooper faced losing her pub, when developers sought to turn The Saddle in Fulford into a shop.

Now (whisper it) that threat has been lifted - and on top of that, May has taken over a second pub just down the road.

If you have passed The Bay Horse in the past few weeks, you may have noticed the "under new management" sign. That's what caught my eye at least, drawing me in earlier this week.

May took over the least at the end of last month, and is now drawing up plans to bolster trade.

York Press:

The previous tenants were there for only a few weeks, she said, and the ones before that for only 14 months. Latterly, she says, opening times had become volatile, always damaging for a pub, but she says she has longer-term plans and is keen to re-establish the pub's reputation.

"The Bay Horse will do more food," she says. "There's potential there with the Sunday carvery, because apparently many years ago it was very popular.

York Press:

"In the New Year we will also put entertainment on on a regular basis. It's a hard time to take on a pub, in the run up to Christmas, but we are trying to get food back up and running.

"We are doing 12pm to 2pm and 5pm to 9pm at the moment, but come the summer it will be longer, hopefully all day. The Sunday carvery is from noon to 4pm, but we hope to extend that as well."

The Bay Horse has a long history in Fulford. There were mentions of it as far back as the 1820s, although the modern building is around 100 years younger than that.

Today, the pub's fundamental character and layout are as they have been for almost 35 years. A big refurbishment and redesign in 1982 created the pub we see today, with its large square island bar in the centre, with serving areas on all four sides.

As you enter, the bar room is off to the right, a lounge area is off to the left, and there's a quieter snug-type area to the rear, more conducive to quieter dining. The bar room is spacious with a smart tiled floor, a pool table at one end, and a collection of old sports trophies sitting proudly atop the ledge above the bar.

York Press:

I arrived ten minutes after the kitchen had closed, alas, but peered across to the lounge area enviously as a more punctual group tucked into their lunch. Food for now consists of simple and traditional pub grub, but May plans to draw up a new menu in the new year.

On the bar itself were Hobogblin Gold, Carling, Coors, John Smith's Smooth and Strongbow.

As for The Saddle? Without wishing to tempt fate, talk of its closure seems to have stopped. May says: "I have been at The Saddle for four or five years now and everything is staying as it is. A year ago, they just said there are no plans now for anything to change, so we've just carried on as normal.

"I will be managing both. I have got a really good staff team. Eventually I might get a manager but I have really good staff at The Saddle who know it, so my aim is to get the Bay Horse back on the map."

  • The pub is hosting a Greek night on December 8, from 8pm. Tickets are £17, which includes traditional Greek music, a traditional Greek meal and the promise of plate-smashing. Phone the pub on 01904 633384 or pop in to book.