‘It’s heartbreaking:’ Award-winning York restaurant to close

Inside Oxo's On The Mount in York. Photograph: CAPTION
30 Aug 2020 @ 4.30 pm
| Food & Drink

A restaurant which has been a flagship for fine dining in York for decades has closed.

Oxo’s On The Mount didn’t reopen after lockdown – and its owners have just announced it has shut for good.

Garlanded with many awards, including TripAdvisor’s certificate of excellence and the OpenTable Diners’ Choice Award 2018, Oxo’s has enjoyed a high reputation over many decades.

But owner Stuart Oxtoby said the conditions introduced to tackle the Covid pandemic had made it all but impossible to continue trading.

“It’s really sad and quite heartbreaking for us as a family and for the whole team that we have had to do this,” Stuart told YorkMix.

“We’ve looked at the costs of continuing, and they just don’t warrant keeping it open.”

Oxo’s forms part of The Mount Royale Hotel, first opened in 1965. The hotel has reopened after lockdown to some success, and is continuing to trade.

All down to the pandemic

One of the dishes at Oxo’s

Stuart suffered a bout of ill health earlier in the year, and when lockdown happened “it gave me a chance to look at things,” he said.

Because the business was over the rateable threshold set by the government, it received no state support other than the furlough scheme. Meanwhile, they lost £5,500 in lost stock and many of the bills kept coming.

When the hotel reopened, they asked how many of their guests would like to eat there “and 95% of people said no”.

Inside Oxo’s

Additionally, a lot of Oxo’s business was large parties of 40 or more booking anniversary celebrations, or Christmas parties. But these are impossible under the social distancing restrictions.

So they have shut Oxo’s. “It was 100% down to the pandemic when we made the final decision.”

It has meant letting the head chef and four other staff go.

Long history

The Mount Royale Hotel in York

The business was opened by Stuart’s mum and dad Richard and Christine. Richard, a former city councillor, died in 2001.

Soon afterwards the family took the decision to lease the restaurant out, to mixed success. They brought it back into the family business in 2013.

Since revealing that Oxo’s was closing, Stuart said they have received numerous messages of support. One said: “It’s a real blow for York hospitality.”

In another sign of the times, Stuart said he struggled to recruit people for jobs in his hotel last year. But he has just advertised for a room attendant and receptionist – and received 125 and 95 applications respectively.

Together with wife Karen they have decided to mothball the restaurant kitchens.

Stuart said: “Who knows? In the future, if things pick up and there’s a bit more certainty, could we relaunch it? It’s a case of watch this space.”