Added 15 June

 

It was Valentines Day. Many of us were there for its big reopening night as a fish restaurant, the second location in an expanding small chain to be called the Cork and Claw at the Duke of Wellington, East Keswick.

We were impressed by the makeover to the dining area which brought good design to a room which had needed the designers flair for over a decade. Now, four months to the day and it's all over. The Duke of Wellington is once again closed.

A spokesperson for Enterprise Inns told the East Keswick website a short time ago that they intended to advertise for a new tenant as soon as possible and were hoping to 'reopen with a publican who will include the community and run a long term sustainable business'.

Word had got round the village that the previous tenant was not interested in the local community but wanted to focus on the North Leeds dining trade. Whether that rumour had any foundation is a matter for conjecture but it can't have helped. Neither can the fact that pub hours seemed to be erratic. Some midweek nights it was open, others not. And most nights the pub closed well before even 11pm. One party of ladies who met for regular nights out were told it was closing at 9pm. They never returned.

Opening primarily as a fish restaurant was a gamble but a menu concentrating mainly on shellfish didn't pay off and many villagers commented on the high pricing. A revised menu introduced at Easter was certainly a step in the right direction but as the fact wasn't advertised few people knew.

On paper the Duke of Wellington Inn ought to do well. It's one of the first country pubs outside the Leeds boundary and in previous lives it has enjoyed packed car parks and full reservations. However villagers will be sad to see that in the past six years it has had a similar number of tenants.

Enterprise Inns tell us that the pub's future is safe and a new tenant is sought. The pub is a listed building and is a listed community asset by East Keswick Parish Council which ought to give it a measure of protection too. The next landlord is assured of the support of the community if he chooses to take it.

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