The Red Lion at Poppleton is ready to roar again.

Just weeks after the venue by the A59 Boroughbridge Road closed, the pub is back open with new owners and new managers.

Now, it is headed by Will Garnett and Holly Mortimer,  both 22, with two young daughters.

They replace former general manager Jess Luck, who took the reins a year ago, aged just 23.


Will, who was born in York and comes from Skelton, told the Press: “We are just normal people that love a good pub.”

He continued: “I have worked in pubs since leaving secondary school and took my first pub on at 18 (The Blacksmith Arms in Skelton).”

The Sam Smith’s pub closed leading Will to move on to running other pubs. His last roles were cheffing at the Spotted Ox in Tockwith and the Royal Oak in Copmanthorpe, gaining a name for simple, local pub food.

He has worked closely with Holly, who comes from Huntington, since 2019.

York Press: A happy barman

“Usually, she has been front of house and I’ve been in the kitchen. We both have a passion for great service and love to create a warm and welcoming environment.”

And in a turbulent hospitality trade they both have worked at other venues covering late night establishments, the quiet independent drinkers pubs, and the big chains.

Will said: “We’ve dealt with everything you can possibly imagine and now we want to use the knowledge and experience that we've gained to put forward the kind of pub that we know will work.”

Will has a vast knowledge and passion for cask ales, and jokes he has the belly to prove it.

The couple opened the pub last Thursday for drinks and will start offering food again next week and rooms in the coming weeks.

York Press:

Will said: “We want the pub to be a place for everything, from the place you stop off for a coffee and a sandwich during a long commute, to a good old weekly quiz.

“We want to put trust back in the local community and have it be a place where you can finish your Sunday afternoon dog walks. We have a Classic pub menu with a few twists here and there that won’t break the bank.”

The carvery will return, available in small, medium and large, possibly going midweek too. Longer term will be monthly theme nights (Spanish, Italian, Indian, etc) and live music. Menus aim to be cheaper than before.

York Press:

“There’s nothing flashy, nothing crazy. Just a nice clean pint and some food to be excited about,” he said.

The venue is now leased by WJS Pub Group of Wakefield, replacing Fleet Catering of Northallerton.

Will added: “Come Try us out. We’re a new business. Everything isn’t going to be perfect straight away. But we will get there and the lion will roar again.”