THE man credited with making Bishopthorpe Road a national name has announced he is leaving the street.

Johnny Hayes and his wife Frankie have run Frankie & Johnny’s Cookshop for seven years, selling cooking goods and gifts, having started out in the street 20 years ago. 

They have announced the sale of their business.

As chairman of the Bishy Road Traders Association (BRTA), Johnny is credited with leading the shopping parade to the title of Britain’s High Street of the Year.

The couple started out in Bishopthorpe Road when they took on Pextons in April 1999. Frankie said: “It was back in Summer 1998, when we were thinking about buying a business, maybe a little village shop somewhere, something like that.

“Johnny just happened to pop out for a tin of undercoat and came back saying,’guess what, Pextons is for sale’. Well, I clearly remember saying something like ‘really, are you crazy?’ We had a baby, a toddler and two teenagers at the time. And the rest is history.”

  Thirteen months later, they expanded into the next door premises, and in 2009 won the award for Britain’s Best Hardware shop from the British Hardware Federation. Johnny said: “It was very hard work, but immensely rewarding and we made a huge number of friends and have very happy and sometimes hilarious memories.”

The couple decided to downsize in 2011, and opened Frankie & Johnny’s Cookshop five doors down the street.

Frankie said: “We built F&J’s from scratch and it’s been a lovely adventure. I have always loved cookware shops, and there aren’t that many left now, but they’re a bit like stationery shops, something about them, the textures and colours, I think. 

“I have met some lovely people, our customers are great and I have loved working with my ever supportive daughters.” 

He said: “It’s been wonderful to be part of this local business community, but away from the shop, we’ve had a difficult couple of years so we’re looking forward to taking things a bit more easy.”

The new owners are Jo and Tim Asquith, who will continue to operate the store as Frankie & Johnny’s Cookshop. Jo said: “We are very excited to be taking over such a lovely business with great staff”.