OTLEY has suffered its first pub closure of 2020.

The Stew & Oyster on Manor Square closed for good on Sunday, January 5. A statement from the company, which has other bars in Leeds, Boston Spa, Malton and Sheffield, said: “We have taken the difficult decision to close our Otley site.

“Our Otley team is one of the best in our company who have done their utmost to make it successful. Disappointingly however, the results have not matched the effort.

“We thank those in Otley who have supported us during our time with you, in particular Otley Pub Club. We hope to welcome you at one of our other sites soon.”

Otley Pub Club posted the news on social media this week, confirming that the rumours about the closure were ‘sadly true’. Club President Greg Mulholland said: “We’re sad that the Stew and Oyster in Otley has closed, especially so for Karl, the excellent manager, and the hardworking staff.

“We wish them all well and hope they all find new positions quickly, they deserve to. We also want to thank Karl, Paul before him and Stew and Oyster as a company for the enthusiastic way they worked with us and supported the community.

“This decision does show that we don’t need more bars and pubs opening in Otley - we have a great choice already and excellent people running them, so we hope people will support them.”

The Stew & Oyster opened in the Old Grammar School building - a Grade II Listed property that was built in 1614 and once had famous cabinet maker Thomas Chippendale as one of its pupils - at the end of 2016.

Among those who are sad to see it go is Town Council Leader Councillor Richard Hughes (Lib Dem, West Chevin). He said: “I am disappointed that the distinctive contribution of the Stew and Oyster to the thriving Otley food and drink offer has come to an end. I was a personal fan of the Thursday quiz!

“The building is a significant and unique part of Otley’s heritage; I am confident a good alternative use for it will be found.”

Councillor Sandy Lay (Lib Dem, Otley & Yeadon) added: “As a Thursday night ‘quizzer’ at the Stew and Oyster I was shocked by its sudden closure. I always found the staff amiable and professional so I really hope that they find work quickly.

“There are too many pubs and bars in Otley as there is only so much money in the town spent on nights out. The dilution of that money across so many pubs and bars means far too many licensees are struggling.”