A SMALL restaurant owner marking five years in York said it was bittersweet to reach the milestone during a pandemic - but has vowed 'to fight' on.

Clarrie O'Callaghan, of Rattle Owl on Micklegate, has also pledged to use the anniversary to help others who have struggled during lockdown by raising funds for IDAS, the independent domestic abuse service.

Clarrie said she was proud of what they had achieved under head chef Tom Heywood and the creative team, and the support from locals and within the industry had made her appreciate it even more.

"But every day brings new challenges and restrictions which makes small indie restaurants particularly vulnerable at present," said Clarrie. "We were featured in the Observer's 50 Things We Love about Food Right Now in February, and shut by March.

"We've got to this point and we are going to fight to stay here, but it's not easy. We've got a lot of positive things in place to mark our five years: a new six-course local menu designed by Tom that changes weekly."

Tom said they wanted to give diners a choice of the a la carte menu, or the longer dining experience in their unique upstairs setting which dates back to 1680.

"It's based on what our suppliers, many of whom suffered under lockdown, have in season as well as foraged around York."

With the 10pm curfew, last customers are now seated at 8pm with a restriction on numbers due to the small kitchen team; previously the restaurant could take bookings up to 9.30pm.

"We now have to try to encourage customers to embrace early dining if they want the independent restaurant sector to survive, most of us rely on two sittings and with the curfew we will struggle to achieve that unless people are willing to come out earlier," said Clarrie.

The Rattle Owl is selling prints of a painting, the Heart of Yorkshire from the Minster, by Natalie Smith for a £20 donation to IDAS via info@rattleowl.co.uk.

"The rainbow behind the heart of Yorkshire particularly resonates, we will get through this one day," said Clarrie.