This year the Box Tree celebrates its 50th birthday. Today it is in the safe hands of Simon and Rena Gueller, but times have not always been so calm.
Do you remember the Box Tree – its fortunes and misfortunes? Here is our edited timeline. Let us know your memories of the food, the wine, the prices and the characters.
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1962 Malcolm Reid and Colin Long, open their camp jewel box of a restaurant, the Box Tree Cottage, in Ilkley creating one of the country’s top restaurants at a time when there is nothing much to be said for eating out in Britain.
1971 Shirley Bassey opens the dining room extension
1979 A young Leeds lad called Marco Pierre White passes through the kitchens before departing for London and fame and fortune.
In the years that follow, the Box Tree wins two Michelin stars and Egon Ronay’s Best Restaurant in Britain award.
Prices are legendary and with wine, stratospheric
1986 Reid and Long retire selling the place with its antiques and object d’arts for £1 million.
1992 The Box Tree crashes with debts of £50,000 following a falling off of food standards. Bought out of receivership by the dynamic and eccentric Greek-born businesswoman Madame Avis, who immediately signs up MPW. The relationship is predictably short-lived. After three months he stomps back to London as she threatens to sue him for fire damage to the kitchen ceiling.
2004 Chefs come and go under Madame Avis until Simon and Rena Gueller take over and run it without interference. Simon’s experience and reputation from running his own places – Millers in Harrogate, Rascasse and York Place in Leeds ensure it’s a success. Gueller seems to have found his spiritual home and within 9 months he is awarded a Michelin star restoring the reputation of the Box Tree once more.
21 March, 2011 Box Tree celebrate their 50th Birthday
Happy Birthday Box Tree