You probably know by now that The Bowling Green [Wetherspoons] on Bondgate, Otley was officially re-opened on Tuesday March 12th by Councillor Sylvia Thomson, the Otley town mayor. There was a collection for the mayor’s chosen charity on the day, as well as a football card competition on the day with half the prize going to the winner, and half to charity. In the evening, there was a quiz hosted by quizmaster Gareth Brittain, which will become a weekly feature on Tuesday nights.
Our secretary Bob Brook had already had a sneak preview of the new interior at The Bowling Green on the previous Saturday evening, when he was shown round by the general manager Rebekah Black. His first impression was that there is definitely more of everything! More space, more taps, more hand pumps, more tables and definitely more carpet [especially for the Wetherspoons geeks among you!] There are also more staff, with 40 new people joining the 25 who have returned after being re-assigned to other Wetherspoons pubs in the area while The Bowling Green was closed.
There has also definitely been more investment [£1.5 million of it!] not just on tables, chairs, carpets and internal decoration, but also on building works. Because Wetherspoons bought the property at the rear of the pub [previously Harry Travis, which has remained in Otley but relocated to the Auction Mart on Leeds Road] the rear wall has been moved back, and the bar with it, to increase the size of the main room – and there is now an additional open room beyond the left end of the bar. Toilets are still upstairs in true Wetherspoons fashion, but there is a fully accessible toilet on the ground floor. Rebekah was keen to emphasise that the extra space means local groups can now meet in the pub, whereas before that wasn’t really feasible. She also said they used to struggle for dining space sometimes when lunchtimes were busy, and that now they should be able to cope with whatever Otley throws at them.
Finally, the drinks. There will be 10 permanent handpulls in use on the bar, with another 2 in place if needed, three of which will always be Doombar, Ruddles and Abbot. Rebekah can choose which other beers she puts on, and is determined to choose what her customers show her they like best. As she’s now been at The Bowling Green for 7 years, she probably has a pretty good idea of which beers are popular and which aren’t! There will also be 17 different products on ‘chrome’ taps, including ciders, lagers, foreign and craft beers. There is also a wide range of alcohol free drinks, including Kopparberg, Erdinger, Stella, Ghost Ship and Brew Dog. Although there is so much more to manage now, Rebekah said it feels great to be back with no restrictions after the last 2 years of Covid, and she couldn’t wait for the opening day.
[This is the first of a regular series of articles featuring a different pub each month.]