JOYCELYN Neve was heartbroken last year when her much-loved business the Seafood Pub Company went into administration.

It forced the closure of the firm’s gastropubs, including The Fleece in Addingham. But now Joycelyn has a team working hard behind the scenes to ensure the pub is ready to reopen on May 17 after it was acquired The Oakman Group in a deal to purchase six pubs previously operated by The Seafood Pub Company.

Joycelyn has joined The Oakman Group as MD of this new division and has said how much she’s looking forward to reopening. “We’re busy working behind the scenes now on getting the pub back to the condition it was in before so we can open on May 17,” she said. “We would have liked to try to get open through April but there’s just so much to do with getting the teams trained up again because obviously everyone’s been on furlough or working elsewhere in the meantime. We are still recruiting as well and we’ve got interviews over the next couple of weeks.”

When asked what customers can expect, Joycelyn said: “We love all the pub classics so the menu will be very much in line with as it was before but just with a refresh for the spring. All the pub classics and the seafood specials board will be back.”

Wharfedale Observer: Joycelyn NeveJoycelyn Neve

Due to pandemic there will be a few changes, for example customers will be able to book the tables outside which used to be allocated on a first come, first serve basis. However, Joycelyn is hoping there won’t be too many restrictions placed on pubs when they reopen. “The reason we went into administration was we couldn’t get a coronavirus business interruption loan and without trade for an indefinite amount of time, it was as bad as it could get," she said. "What’s different now is we are part of the Oakman Group and even in a worst case scenario having the support of the bigger group behind us we’d be able to weather the storm.”

Wharfedale Observer: The bar of The FleeceThe bar of The Fleece

And with bookings now open it seems villagers are just as keen to see the doors of the pub reopen.

Wharfedale Observer: The Fleece has an amazing fire if the weather is coldThe Fleece has an amazing fire if the weather is cold

“I’ve got a great response already and when I’ve been in there showing contractors around we’ve been having little notes pushed under the door for people to book a table which is lovely and lots of well wishes in emails so we can’t wait to get back open.

“For the Fleece being in the centre of village and having such a strong community around it feels even more pressing to get the doors open as quickly as we can.

“It has been a terrible year for so many people but a lot of the old crew are coming back which is great and lot of new people will be joining us as well which is super exciting.

“Now there’s a vaccine roll out things are looking positive and we are looking forward to having a great summer. Hopefully the weather will be on side. We might not be able to jump on a plane just yet but at least we’ll have our local pubs to go to and enjoy in the meantime and that’s lovely.”

Wharfedale Observer: The interior of The Fleece in AddinghamThe interior of The Fleece in Addingham