First look: Inside York’s long-awaited Pavement Vaults bar and smokehouse

Name in lights… downstairs at the Pavement Vaults. Photographs: Richard McDougall
Name in lights… downstairs at the Pavement Vaults. Photographs: Richard McDougall

Name in lights… downstairs at the Pavement Vaults. Photographs: Richard McDougall

Few bar openings have been awaited so keenly as that of the Pavement Vaults. Now the waiting is nearly over as it opens to the public on Sunday (November 22).

We have been lucky enough to enjoy an early tour of the place. And if you’re not in the mood to read lots of words, here’s a short summary.

Wow.

There are many reasons to welcome the new venue. Firstly, it has turned a long-boarded up corner of Piccadilly into a thing of beauty, continuing the overdue rehabilitation of the Old White Swan building.

Secondly, it is brought to us by the Pivovar Group. These good people are all about individualism, quality and friendliness, as anyone who has drunk at their other city pubs, Pivni on Patrick Pool or the York Tap at the station, will testify.

And thirdly, this large and lively new venue brings jobs and buzz to the city centre just as we head into our biggest Christmas season yet.

A landmark venue

Clean, light and airy – upstairs at the Vaults

Clean, light and airy – upstairs at the Vaults

York Pavement Vaults are the brainchild of Jamie Hawksworth of Pivovar.

He has lived in York for 20 years, and for all that time the White Swan Hotel had been a beautiful landmark “left to rot”.

In a wide-ranging interview with YorkMix pubs and beer correspondent Nick Love, he explained how, in one sense, he is taking the location back in time.

It used to be a bar. I did a lot of research. A beautiful bar and a lovely location.

But it’s just been knocked about and abused.

Jamie confessed he felt “a little bit embarrassed to be opening another bar in York”.

“But this is a landmark venue,” he said. “And if I didn’t do it, somebody else would do it.

“I just had my eye on it first, and it’s the old classic of having the eye for the industry, thinking there should be a pub round here – and there once was.”

Listen to Nick Love’s interview with Jamie
You can hear much more from Nick Love’s interview with Jamie Hawsworth in another YorkMix article coming soon

Chef has cooked for the Queen

Craft beer to go with craft food – the handpumps on the bar

Craft beer to go with craft food – the handpumps on the bar

The original Pavement Vaults was on Pavement itself and shut in 1963. But as well as its nod to the past, the new Vaults is looking to the future.

This is not just a bar, but a “progressive beer, smoke & barbeque canteen”. Jamie said:

There’s a big trend at the moment for high quality meat, butchery and craft beer, and they all work together perfectly.

That trend – which began in the States – is just catching on here. And among the 30 or so jobs created by Pavement Vaults will be master butchers.

Perhaps it should have been called the Boar's Head

Perhaps it should have been called the Boar’s Head

The food will be overseen by Andy Annat. He is a renowned barbecue chef who has cooked for the Sultan of Brunei – and at an even more important occasion. Jamie explains:

He also cooked for the Queen’s 80th birthday at Balmoral.

He was the head barbecue chef for the whole party there. It seems like make-believe – but it’s rock’n’roll in my world.

So the food will include properly aged, smoked and grilled meat – like nothing else around.

We hope it’s going to be one of the best barbecue and beer venues in the UK.

Drinks for all

A detail from the new decor upstairs at the Vaults

A detail from the new decor upstairs at the Vaults

The Pivovar group are known for creating pubs that serve top-notch, crafted beer. Timothy Taylor’s Landlord and Gun Brewery Pale Ale are two of the first choices.

But the Pavement Vaults will have a more extensive drinks menu, including modern classic cocktails selected by hospitality veteran Sam Wheatley (ex of Star Inn The City).

Thanks to the big windows which look out over Piccadilly and towards Parliament Street, the ground floor has a lovely airy feel.

At the back you can see through to the brand new kitchen, and watch the chefs prepare the food.

Pavement Vaults

2 Piccadilly, York YO1 9NU

Opens from Sun Nov 22

Website

Mind how you go – the beautiful spiral staircase

Mind how you go – the beautiful spiral staircase

A great location: York Pavement Vaults is at the centre of the junction of Pavement, Piccadilly, Parliament Street and Coppergate

A great location: York Pavement Vaults is at the centre of the junction of Pavement, Piccadilly, Parliament Street and Coppergate

Go down the elegant (if tricky to negotiate after a beer or cocktail or three) wrought-iron spiral staircase and you are in different world.

The lighting is much more moody, and you can sit in specially designed, horseshoe shaped booths.

Events are planned for the future, including “Meet The Brewer” and a whisky masterclass.