The pandemic gave Michael Wignall chance to transform pub

By Amelie Maurice-Jones contact

- Last updated on GMT

Covid construction: the pandemic provided Michael Wignall with the perfect opportunity to modernise pub (Getty/SolStock)
Covid construction: the pandemic provided Michael Wignall with the perfect opportunity to modernise pub (Getty/SolStock)

Related tags: Gastropub, Property, Michael wignall, Yorkshire, Michelin star

The pandemic provided an ideal chance to transform 15th century the Angel at Hetton from a “pubby-pub” into a more modern restaurant, according to the head-chef.

The two Michelin-starred chef Michael Wignall took over the North Yorkshire inn, which is regarded as the UK’s original gastropub, in 2018.

Wignall said: “With everything that's happened with the pandemic, we've looked at the business and we've reassessed everything, and we've just pushed forward on making it a real destination and something really special with the rooms that we've got.

With a background primarily in fine dining, Wignall said he and his wife Johanna seized the opportunity to put a “lovely, old building” and “beautiful village” back on the map.  

He said: “[…] we've sort of moved away from the pubby-pub, but we are still a public house.

“We've got a bar area and things like that, but we’ve just refurbished the end of the building, so it’s sort of refurbed now completely different to what it was three years ago when we first took over.

Respecting tradition

Wignall said that while the refurbishment is quite modern, it also pays homage to old traditions: “We've got copper tones everywhere, because copper used to be mined in the area”, he said.

“The bar’s made out of an oak tree that was felled less than four miles away, and the tables are made out of the same tree,” he continued.

Wignall said that the transition was “quite challenging” yet an “overall amazing experience”.

“You change something people are used to, and you'll always get the people that don't like the change, but you'll get the new people that embrace that, and the old people that embrace it as well,” he said.

About the pub

He added: “It's been an interesting few years, but I think the pandemic sort of helped us accelerate the change, because we've just used it to our advantage and just refurbed while unfortunately we've been closed.

In August, the Angel placed second in the National Restaurant Awards Top 100 Restaurants, as well as bagging the title of Gastropub of the year.

The pub has nine bedrooms, and is situated near the Yorkshire Dales National Park. It serves dishes described by the chef as “modern, technical and meaningful.”

Wignall said: “Let’s bring [the pub] up to modern day terms […] and make it a real destination for people to come and enjoy a couple of nights away with amazing food but friendly, more down-to-earth service.”

Related topics: Chefs

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