By Graham Chalmers
One of Harrogate’s most popular dining out destinations is to close for at least a month for a major refurbishment and, don’t tell your neighbours, but even the white table cloths are going.
Originally opened in the 1970s as the town’s very first wine bar, William & Victoria has been owned and run with huge success by the Straker family for more than 20 years.
Located towards the bottom of Cold Bath Road, this Harrogate institution is renowned for its period décor, cosy atmosphere and a menu focused on the best of British classics.
But regulars are going to have to take a bit of a break from the comfortingly traditional but relaxed atmosphere, for William & Victoria is to be shut throughout February for the refurbishment of both its restaurant and wine bar.
Co-owner Johanna Straker said: “We will be closed from Sunday, February 1, reopening downstairs on Sunday, March 1 with the upstairs opening a couple of weeks later in mid-March.“
As well as new kitchens, new toilets and refreshed decor, there will be at least one substantial change - the internal staircase between the upstairs restaurant and downstairs wine bar is being opened up to customers.
“We hope to create a better flow and buzz between the two floors but the essence of William & Victoria will still be good quality British food with the emphasis on Yorkshire produce served in a relaxed and welcoming atmosphere.”
Johanna said the work had been planned since they purchased Williams & Victoria’s premises two years ago.
The reason for the work was simple, she added - the age of the building meant its infrastructure needed bringing into the 21st century with a dose of tender loving care.
Part of the facelift will see the creation of extra bar areas so that more customers can enjoy a glass of wine and some ‘bar tapas’.
But the facelift seems to be more a case of remaining true to W&V’s heritage rather out-and-out revolution.
Johanna said: “Twenty years ago we had a tapas menu. This is being reintroduced and updated, though some regulars would argue it never went away as we have always been flexible in serving some dishes at the bar.”
“The ‘upstairs’ is going to echo the wine bar in decor and, to a handful of customers’ horror, we are losing the white table cloths!”
Come March, W&V’s loyal customers will find it’s possible to have a drink downstairs before going to the more spacious upstairs and vice versa.
But they might also notice that some things haven’t disappeared in this early spring clean.
Johanna said : “The main thing that won’t be changing is the face of William & Victoria, David Straker. After almost 25 years as front of house in the wine bar, he will be spending time both upstairs and down ensuring that things are running smoothly - backed by our regular team of hardworking and loyal employees.”