Michelin Two Star Chef who wanted to buy Henry Jenkins was told: It’s not for sale!

It’s been revealed that a top chef – interested in buying and refurbishing the Henry Jenkins as an upmarket pub and restaurant – was sent away and told: “It’s sold.”

Information has come to light that a chef with 12 years’ experience at a renowned Michelin Two Star restaurant in West Yorkshire made several visits to Kirkby Malzeard in late 2014/ early 2015 with a view to buying the Henry Jenkins.

He says in an email to Harrogate Borough Council’s Planning Department: “About two years ago my wife and I were looking for a pub to invest in and we heard about the Henry Jenkins in Kirkby Malzeard through a friend who lives in the village.

“We drove up… several times to see it and we were very keen. Kirkby Malzeard is a beautiful village and the Henry Jenkins seemed ideal – it could have been an amazing place. You’re never going to make millions but it would be the perfect place for a couple to take on – and there are so many locals that you would be able to get on your side. We were planning to split it so that I did the food while my wife did front of house.”

However when the couple rang the number on the “for sale” sign outside the pub, they were told: “It’s sold.” The chef said: “We asked what the bid was because we thought we might be able to top it – but were just told they couldn’t say any more because it was sold.

“As it appeared the pub was still for sale we tried again … but were again told it was sold. We must have tried to ring about six times altogether and we got through twice … in the end we gave up.”

Instead the couple turned their attention to a pub in West Yorkshire, which has since been transformed into superbly-appointed village pub and restaurant with accommodation.

This is the third credible prospective buyer interested in the Henry Jenkins to have submitted evidence of how they have been rebuffed by the present owner. A couple with experience of running successful pubs in North Yorkshire had been interested in the Henry Jenkins when it was advertised for less than £150,000 in 2011 but had been unable to proceed at that stage. Then after noticing the “for sale” sign put outside the Henry Jenkins by the present owner in 2012 they rang the number. In an email which has been passed on to Harrogate Borough Council they state: “We were told we could purchase the property at the sale price of £350,000 which was totally overpriced – so presumed the owner really didn’t want to sell the property at all.”

Then in 2014 the owner of a successful North Yorkshire restaurant, who has also owned and run a wine bar and coffee shop, phoned up to inquire. She says in a letter to the council: “We offered the … asking price as it was advertised and valued on the internet.

“He laughed and in no uncertain terms told us he would rather hold on to it. After having thought about it further and spoken to my partner I phoned him back later the same day and offered him substantially above the asking price … but this offer was also refused. It was obvious he was not going to sell it no matter what I offered.”

Under Harrogate Borough Council’s “Policy CFX” proposals involving the loss of land or premises in community use – including public houses – will not be permitted unless it can be shown “there is no reasonable prospect of the existing use continuing on a viable basis with all options for continuance having been fully explored.” To do this, the applicant must provide evidence “covering the results of reasonable attempts to actively market the land or premises for sale or lease at a value and description which reflects its existing community use.”