PUBS in York and North Yorkshire have been earmarked for major investment - subject to operators taking them on.

Changing drinking habits since the pandemic has led Heineken UK to announce a £42m programme of improvements in a bid to raise the bar by upgrading locals in its Star Pubs & Bars' estate in 2022.

Money has been set aside to improve Gibsons in York, the Duke of York at Gate Helmsley, Woodlands in Harrogate and Whitestonecliff Inn, near Thirsk - once new operators have been found.

York Press:

There are 10 pubs across Yorkshire and the Humber, including Mist in Scarborough, set to benefit from £2.3m worth of upgrades, five of which - reflecting £1.5m of the investment - are subject to recruiting new operators.

Among these is Gibson's, the former rock bar and restaurant in Micklegate, which would undergo a £280,000 refurbishment to modernise the pub and give it a stylish makeover with exposed brickwork, comfortable seating and a brighter improved back bar.

Outside, a hidden courtyard space, would be enhanced to ensure maximum use by tourists, locals, and students.

Previously known as Montey's Rock Cafe until its name change in 2012, it called last orders in 2020 when the owners decided to move on to new pastures.

The proposed investment for the Duke of York would create a covered outdoor area as well as a grass garden with play equipment and an inviting internal space.

The revamps in Yorkshire and the Humber will reflect two long-term trends that have been accelerated and amplified by the pandemic – pubgoers’ increasing demand for quality and for outdoor socialising.

New research reveals that, since the pandemic, more than 50 per cent of pubgoers are treating themselves to better quality food and drink than they did pre-Covid, while a nice outdoor seating area has become more important to eight out of ten.

Pubs earmarked for makeovers will be treated to kitchen refits and new bars to meet pubgoers’ higher expectations for food and drink. Many of the projects will include external improvements, such as extended outdoor seating areas with features such as festoon lighting, artwork, heaters and covers.

Lawson Mountstevens, managing director, Star Pubs & Bars, said: “People have stayed closer to home over the last two years due to the pandemic and turned to their local for the kind of experience they’d previously have travelled to a city centre, restaurant or bar to find.

"They don't want to turn back time: they expect better quality including food and speciality drinks such as cocktails that are harder to recreate at home.

"It’s the same with gardens. Sitting outside at the pub has become a new occasion and, if the outside space is good enough, customers will wrap up to enjoy it even in the winter months. Outdoor facilities also remain important for those who are still cautious about going out as the UK learns to live with Covid.

“The cost-of-living squeeze on wallets is magnifying these trends. People are looking for a really great experience when they go out. We are confident that well invested pubs that adapt to market changes will have a bright, long-term future.”