The owners of a North Yorkshire pub have proved they are “punching above their weight” after winning an industry “Oscar”.
Graham Usher and Martin Firth from the Drovers Arms in Skipwith, near Selby, picked up the Punch Taverns Best New Business Award for the North, for the way they have turned around the fortunes of the mid-19th century inn.
Sarah Dinning, Punch Taverns new business manager, said: “The New Business Award for the North goes to Graham and Martin, who are some of the most hardworking publicans we have seen.
“In the first year they have turned their business into a must visit food destination. Even more amazing is that they have done this whilst both holding down full time jobs!
“Their mission is to do something amazing everyday – which they have certainly achieved. They have impeccable retail standards, offer great customer service and are a pleasure to work with.”
Graham, whose day job is managing the Best Western Monkbar Hotel in York, said: “We are thrilled to have won this award from Punch Taverns, and it is a real tribute to the great team we have here.
“It was always my dream to own and run a country pub, and, when the Drovers came on the market at the end of 2013, we jumped at the opportunity.
“Over the last year we have put a lot of hard work and effort into making the Drovers a must-visit for food and real ale lovers, and these efforts are paying dividends.”
Martin, whose day job is at British Gas, said: “The last 12 months have been both exciting and challenging and I’m delighted our work has been recognised in this way.
“Last July we were named as one of the winners of the Trip Advisor Excellence Awards for 2014, and now we have this to add to our successes.
“We still have plenty more plans in the pipeline, and these include creating a first-floor function room which would be able to cater for parties of up to 30, marquee functions or weddings, a cask ale festival and Gourmet dinners.”
Since taking over the Drovers Arms, Graham and Martin have changed the emphasis from it being “just another pub” to one that serves up traditional, homemade dishes favoured by pub goers and inspired modern British dishes for the true foodies, and for those just popping in for a drink, a selection of award-winning cask-conditioned ales.
And, being on the edge of Skipwith Common – one of the last remaining areas of northern lowland heath in England – it welcomes dogs in its bar area.
The pair have introduced nightly specials to drawn in clients, plus regular events including wine tasting evenings, themed nights and great value steak deals with meat sourced from God’s own country – Yorkshire.