End of an era at The Wolds Inn

The Wolds Inn at Huggate is set to have new owners for the first time in 30 years after the Leaver family pulled their final pints and served their last meals in December.

Since John and Jane Leaver arrived in the Yorkshire Wolds from Spain three decades ago, the Wolds Inn has earned a reputation as one of the best food pubs in the area, with customers – often walkers and cyclists passing through the village – coming from far and wide to sample the menu.

But with their son, Dan, establishing a new pie business during lockdown, which he is now in the process of expanding, John and Jane have decided to take a back seat and retire.

The family closed the doors at the pub for the last time on 30th December on a night they shared with some of their regulars.

The sale of the Wolds Inn is currently in the final stages and should be completed later this month.

The original succession plan would have seen Dan take over the running of the pub from his parents.

But, as it did with so many other businesses, lockdown changed John and Jane’s best-laid plans.

“We made the decision that we would be leaving the pub around a year ago,” said Jane.

“Before lockdown, Dan was going to take the pub on. However, the pandemic put that plan on hold, which in the end has worked out better for us.

“Dan’s circumstances changed – he now has a family and he created a pie business in lockdown.

“Lockdown changed everything and took us in a new direction. We can go on the backburner now and sit in the background and help out as Dan moves forward with his pie business.

“It’s time to put our feet up.”

The hospitality industry was a very different one when John and Jane arrived at the Wolds Inn, with smoking allowed inside and dietary requirements not taken as seriously as they are today.

But John and Jane have been able to adapt to everything that has been thrown at them over the last 30 years as they react to their customers’ changing habits.

“We’re proud of what we have achieved over the last 30 years,” said Jane. “It’s not been easy and we’ve had bad times.

John, Jane and Dan Leaver have pulled their final pints at The Wolds Inn at Huggate and are looking forward to working on Dan’s new pie business.

“It’s been our life. Dan was only two when he came to Huggate and his brother was born here.

“Now, Dan has a child who is nearly two-years-old, so it’s almost come full circle and it’s time for a change.

“When we arrived, the pub was very different. The left-hand side was a bar, with food just in the restaurant, which wouldn’t open until quarter-to- seven.

“If you did that now, you wouldn’t have many customers. Habits have changed and we’ve been able to adapt to them.

“The smoking ban made a difference, as did the millennium when supposedly everything was going to stop working.

“We’ve held lots of charity events. The pub, with two bars, lends itself to those. The location of the pub also brings in lots of walkers and cyclists.

“Huggate is on the majority of walking routes in this area and the coast-to-coast cycling route, which brings all kinds of people into the pub from all over the world.”

John added: “Eating patterns have changed unbelievably. The menu we had when we originally came to the pub was for the hungry farmer, with a massive plate of food served up.

“They would wolf it down and the signature dishes were based on that, such as the Wolds Topper, a big mixed grill with lots of meat on it.

“But diets have changed over the years and people don’t always want to shovel down a huge plate of food.

“A lot of that has come as a result of the mechanisation of farming. It’s not as physical as it used to be.

“You pick out the best dishes that people like and leave them on. It’s just worked over the years.”

Currently still living in the cottage next to the pub, John and Jane are not moving too far and will relocate up the road in Pocklington once the sale has been completed.

The couple are looking forward to spending more time with their grandchildren and going on a well-earned holiday.

“Our final day was a bit of a relief because the sale of the pub has dragged on,” said Jane.

“However, it is close to completion now.

“We’re going to miss the social side – customers who have come in since we started, some of whom travel from a long way.

“We’ve had lots of staff over the years. Most of them started at 13, went off to university and returned during the summer before leaving when they got a full-time job.

“Many of them returned, often with their families and it was nice to see them.

“We’re looking forward to retirement. None of us have had a holiday for four years so it’s about time we went away.”

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