GBPA Stonegate Pub of the Year: The Myrtle Tavern

By Ed Bedington contact

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Great british pub awards, Stonegate, Award, Pub

Nestled in one of the leafier suburbs of Leeds, the Myrtle Tavern occupies a higgledy-piggledy building with many tempting corners to sit and sup a pint, and the site is now celebrating after being named Stonegate Pub of the Year in the Great British Pub Awards 2021.

Reopening after lockdown, though, the business turned outwards into its expansive grounds.

Lessee Scott Westlake erected a large marquee creating a ‘secret garden’ and staged a series of outdoor events that broadened the pub’s customer base and took the business to another level.

Surviving and ultimately prospering from the crisis was a particularly special achievement for Westlake who started working behind the bar there at 18 before becoming its relief manager. In that role he saved the Myrtle from threatened closure and was rewarded with the tenancy in 2016.

The key then was his focus on creating the right atmosphere to draw in the locals, for instance choosing an inventive tapas menu the meet the needs of drinkers rather than being tempted to go the gastropub route. And there are some excellent local-brewed cask beers to wash it down, of course.

Television coverage

With lockdown he kept the pub at the hub of the community by hosting a weekly online quiz and delivering Sunday lunches to the regulars. That gained the Myrtle valuable publicity, including television coverage, and a wider audience eager to visit when it reopened.

Alongside the marquee a caravan was installed to greet and seat guests – and with restrictions eased, it now serves ice-creams, free drinking water and, in the unlikely event of it raining in Yorkshire, complimentary ponchos.

Sport is screened indoors and out, there’s a children’s playground and a busy events calendar that means people are unlikely to lose the habit of visiting the pub.

Over the last 18 months or so, the Myrtle has not only adapted to difficult circumstances, it has grown its following. And with the main bar and kitchen set for development, even better times could be ahead.

Related topics: Events & Occasions