Business Focus: The Old Bore, Rishworth, West Yorkshire

By Sheila McWattie

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags West yorkshire Sausage Pork

The Old Bore, Rishworth, West Yorkshire
The Old Bore, Rishworth, West Yorkshire
Scott Hessel, chef at the Old Bore in Rishworth, West Yorks, tells Sheila McWattie about the pub’s reputation for great food.

How I got here

I started cooking at 16 and completed my HND in hotel management at Huddersfield Technical College. In 1990, at the age of 19, I was the youngest winner of the Roux Brothers Scholarship. At the Crab & Lobster in Thirsk, North Yorkshire, David Barnard was an incredible mentor and inspired me to open my first restaurant, Mustard & Punch, in West Yorkshire, at the age of 23.

The Old Bore is the fifth food business I’ve owned, and my first pub. Back in 2004 when I purchased the freehold, it had closed and was pretty grotty. When I took it over with my wife, Lisa, we were clear that it was going to be a destination, high-end food pub because that’s what I do, having worked in several three-starred Michelin kitchens in England and abroad.

Running your own business is stressful enough, but I vividly remember our first year after we took on the Old Bore: we moved house, got married and had our first child. Looking back, I wonder how we did it. Lisa has worked alongside me for the past 10 years. She’s largely self-taught, but her common sense, personality and good looks have helped us to win numerous awards.

How we achieved our business growth

Constantly trying to get the word out there, being consistent, entering competitions and winning awards are some of our strategies. But I truly believe it all starts with you, your confidence in yourself and in others around you. Rishworth is in an affluent area within easy reach of the M62 and our customers come from West Yorkshire and Lancashire as we are just in between.


Business philosophy

Focus on the purchasing, margins and sales, and remember that cash-flow is king.

Don’t be scared to try new ideas.

Best piece of business advice we have ever been given

You can’t go against market forces.

How we stand out from the competition

From the moment you enter the Old Bore you’re made to feel very welcome. Customers are greeted by Lisa and the unusual interior is very attractive. It has been described as a Disney hunting lodge; we like to think of it as having a ‘robin’s nest’ appeal, with lots of interesting items everywhere. Our food, its quality and its unusual nature set us apart. Recently we opened Nam Nam, a Thai restaurant, in our former private dining room at the pub. It’s going down a storm and has added another unique aspect to our style.

Bar talk

I love buying bin ends, or wines in limited supply. We’re very flexible and can instantly change our wine list, printing it in-house, resulting in greater margins on selected wines. We usually feature a page of 10 whites and 10 reds as house recommendations at the front of our main list, enabling us to focus most sales on better-margin bottles.

Recommended business-related websites

Andy Hayler reviews restaurants on a regular basis countrywide; it’s interesting to read his thoughts on new places at

The Staff Canteen is the UK’s leading networking website for chefs:

Three recommended suppliers


Wellocks, Nelson, Lancashire — first-rate service and amazing range of produce: 08444 993444 or
Taste Tradition, Thirsk, North Yorkshire — first-rate service and top quality meat and suckling pig: 01845 525330 or

Sail Brand, Huddersfield, West Yorkshire — great fresh fish, shellfish and poultry: 01484 519571 or

Pub facts

Licensee​: Scott Hessel

Tenure​: Freehold


Wet:dry split​: 40:60

Wages as percentage of turnover:​ 26%

GP food/GP drink:​ 70% for both

Total covers:​ 75 inside; 36 outside

Average covers per week:​ 300


Menu Philosophy

Primarily I want guests to read our menu and be excited. Our tag line is ‘anything but boring’ — we love local food and serving interesting classical or radical combinations. It just has to taste great. I am absolutely passionate about seasonal food and can’t wait for the next ingredient. We’ve built an excellent reputation for game dishes.

Unlike many places these days we don’t necessarily buy our produce from loads of different sources, preferring to use a supplier who has gone to great lengths to source the best from a range of local producers. This simplifies life and allows us time to concentrate on our cooking and running the Old Bore.

How often does the menu change?


Lisa thinks the answer is hourly, but let’s say I change at least one dish a day. By the end of this interview my favourite dish will have changed. Right now it’s a board consisting of Charles Ashbridge’s suckling pig Wellington, wild boar sausage, twice-cooked belly pork and pig’s head fritter served with Savoy cabbage, roast heritage potatoes, apple sauce, crackling & roasting juices.

Best-selling dishes

Starters​: Salmon tasting slate: smoked salmon pâté, salmon sesame toast, hot smoked & gravadlax, shaved fennel, pink grapefruit & samphire, home-made sourdough (£7.95); Shetland king scallops, crispy belly pork, sweet potato purée, chorizo jam & apple (£8.95); fresh porcini mushroom risotto, rocket & smoked almonds (£7.95), locally foraged by the Old Bore’s very own Italian mushroom-hunters.

Mains​: Ryburn lamb fillet, Jerusalem artichoke purée, fondant potatoes & Scottish girolle mushrooms (£16.95); braised daube of Calderdale beef blade, rich Bourguignon jus, glazed Chantenay carrots, baby onions & creamy mash (£15.95); sea bass fillet, chick pea & squid tagine, aubergine, harissa & saffron aïoli (£16.95).

Desserts:​ Lemon meringue pot (£5.95); plate of apple desserts: crème brûlée, baked cheesecake & Calvados lollipop (£6.95); Choc-a-wonka-doo-da: chocolate, marshmallow & cookie crumble, white chocolate panna cotta, mint & chocolate truffle ice cream, Black Forest & popping candy shot (£7.95).

Two most profitable dishes

Smoked haddock fritters, chorizo & roast pepper sauce (£6.95; GP 89%).

Roast North Yorkshire partridge, parsnip purée, sticky damson red cabbage & game chips (£15.95; GP 79%).



Service secrets

‘Nothing is too much trouble’ is a useful mantra. Train staff so that you get the best out of them and play to their strengths. Get as much interaction as possible, promoting engagement and developing relationships.

One idea that didn’t work

When we built an outside barbecue hut with a wood-fired clay oven, it didn’t stop raining for two months, so the oven never dried out. To top it off my five-year-old son totally destroyed the oven by climbing all over it.

Successful marketing and PR ideas

We learned how to build websites, to enable us to change and update ours regularly. In the past month we won the award for Best British Cheeseboard, so the PR is just kicking in now. We send regular email newsletters to our database and update our Facebook page.

Credit check

I got my business rates free this year — nice one! Anyone paying less than £10,000 can apply — just get in touch with your local council.

Couldn’t live without

Our Clifton water baths. We’ve had two for about five years and cook our Sunday roasts in them — they take about a day and a half to cook, but you can serve pink, tender topside, instead of using more expensive sirloin.

Five best ideas

  • Premier nights​ — a three-course surprise menu on the first Wednesday of each month.
  • Wine nights​ — every six weeks we have a guest wine speaker, four-course menu and matching wine.
  • Loyalty card​ — we introduced this to collect customers’ email addresses, and each month they receive a new offer.
  • Cheese board​ — we’ve improved our cheese offering. Our exclusive range of local cheeses has helped us win the title of the Best British Cheeseboard 2011.
  • Thai restaurant within the Old Bore brings in new faces, who can also experience the pub offering when they visit.

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