'Why I sold famous Harrogate bar' - ex-owner

Time to retire - The Harrogate Brasserie's Richard Finney with his wife Amanda.(1702204AM1)
Time to retire - The Harrogate Brasserie's Richard Finney with his wife Amanda.(1702204AM1)

The retiring owner of one of Harrogate’s most famous bars has been talking about his decision to sell up.

After running the cosy and characterful Harrogate Brasserie successfully for 27 years, owners Richard and Amanda Finney have handed over to Timothy Taylors brewers.
Renowned for its live jazz music and chess board chequered floor, Richard Finney said he was looking forward to retiring but was delighted that the new owners shared similar values to the Brasserie.
Richard, 56, said: “Over the years I have been approached by many individuals and companies trying to purchase the Brasserie but only now have I felt that, firstly, the time is right and, secondly, the purchaser is right.
“We are selling to a long-established family company whom intend to keep the Harrogate Brasserie and the staff as we all know it.”
Richard said he and Amanda had had no previous experience of the catering trade before the Harrogate Brasserie.
They learnt organically, much the same way the Brasserie's success grew.
He said: "We battled through the 90s gaining a lot of experience of bringing up children and running restaurants and hotels.
"The year 2000 was the turning point whereby we were able to purchase a house away from the business and begin to lead a normal family life.
"Since 2000 we have acquired several properties behind the hotel and converted into luxury apartments.
"Today the hotel aspect of the business is larger than the wet and dry trade."
Speaking to the Harrogate Advertiser after the news of the sale was announced to staff at this bar-restaurant-hotel on Cheltenham Parade, Tim Dewey, the chief executive of new owners Timothy Taylors, said the firm believed in owning different and distinctive bars.
He added the intention was not to make any radical changes, though it would be bringing in some of the brewery’s own beers and introducing a range of modern gins.
Tim Dewey said: “We were looking for a high profile venue in Harrogate that would give us a presence in the town.
“We feel that the Harrogate Brasserie offers us a quality solution and we look forward to working with Richard Finney’s team to build on and enhance the excellent tradition they have established.”
The Brasserie started trading on May 18, 1990 at a time when Richard and Amanda Finney were just beginning to build a family; four children came along in the period of 13 months - including triplets!
He said: “The key to our longevity has been consistency and to grow the business slowly. If you go to a restaurant and enjoy it you can’t tell friends you loved it if it’s different the next night.”
Despite his gentle approach - changes at the Brasserie were often so sensitively done even customers scarcely noticed - Richard said one of his proudest moments was when the Brasserie eceived an AA rosette.
But the time had come to retire and, perhaps, enjoy travelling, he said.
Richard said: “After 27 years and all children through university we consider the time is perfect to move onto the next chapter of our lives.
"But the handover will last a month and we would love to see old friends and customers to share a drink at the Brasserie with our brilliant staff.”

New ownership - Retiring Richard Finney and  Amanda Finney with Tim Dewey (Cheif Executive of Timothy Taylor) and John Varley (Finance Director of Timothy Taylor)(1702204AM3)

New ownership - Retiring Richard Finney and Amanda Finney with Tim Dewey (Cheif Executive of Timothy Taylor) and John Varley (Finance Director of Timothy Taylor)(1702204AM3)