Royal welcome for couple crowned with food awards

There’s a new challenge in store for fine dining champions John and Zoe Connor whose kitchen creations have won them both praise and prizes in the north of England.

The husband-and-wife team have been appointed as the new managers of The Royal pub in Silverdale on which they are already making their culinary mark.

Their aim is to bolster the gastro-pub’s reputation with a menu accenting on Lancashire-sourced cuisine which chef John will be interpreting for lovers of distinctive dining.

Zoe meanwhile will be taking care of “front of house” at the popular village centre pub which was re-opened 18 months ago after standing empty for five years.

The Royal’s £300,000 refurbishment by local businessman Michael Holgate has helped win it a loyal local following for its food and selection of local craft ales.

Now John and Zoe intend to raise the bar even higher after joining the pub from a similar managerial position which they held at The New Inn in nearby Yealand.

Whilst there, the couple won the prestigious Best Newcomer of the Year title in the Lancashire Life awards for which hundreds of other pubs throughout the county were eligible.

Not that John, who was originally from Liverpool, is any stranger to receiving honours for his food.

He has won rosettes for his dishes both at other dining establishments where he headed up the kitchens, and at his own restaurant in Carnforth which he ran for three years.

A new menu in The Royal’s upstairs restaurant will soon be unveiled, and John hopes that diners will enjoy his take on dishes both traditional and more contemporary.

Locally raised beef, lamb and poultry will feature – and John says his ambition is to keep the food miles down, and the quality high whilst still offering good value.

Michael Holgate, who successfully got The Royal back up on its feet, said John and Zoe are the perfect couple for taking the pub up to its next level:

“We don’t want to change a winning formula in terms of the relaxing atmosphere and friendly surroundings for which we receive many favourable comments,” said Michael.

“However, all restaurants evolve over time, and John will be bringing a fresh perspective to the menu which I’m certain will win him many new friends!

“Zoe also comes with a track record of professionalism in providing first-class hospitality, and I’m certain that together they will be providing us with a recipe for excellence,” added Michael.