Gastropub pioneer Watkins dies at 66

21 July 2004 by
Gastropub pioneer Watkins dies at 66

Denis Watkins, widely regarded as the godfather of the gastropub, has died of cancer aged 66.

Watkins, regarded as an inspiration to all pub chefs, was chef-proprietor of the Angel Inn at Hetton, North Yorkshire. He died peacefully at 8.30pm on 15 July, with his family at his bedside.

Watkins: combined excellent food with the qualities of the English pub
Watkins bought the Angel out of receivership 21 years ago and decided that combining excellent food with the qualities of a traditional English pub would be a winning formula. He was proved right, and won several awards, including the Pub Operator of the Year Catey in 1989. Chef and restaurateur Paul Heathcote said: "Great loss, great friend, great man, great restaurateur, great admiration and great memories. My life has been a lot better for knowing Denis and everyone who has been in contact with him will be richer for it." Last year, Watkins added a new dimension to the business by adding a French-style wine cave and five studio suites in the converted barns opposite the inn. Watkins leaves a wife, Juliet, a son and two daughters. Bruce Elsworth, head chef of the Angel, is taking over as operations director. Juliet will continue as financial director and her son, Pascal, will continue to run the wine cave. Pascal said: "It's business as usual, just as Denis would have wanted." The funeral takes place today (22 July) at 11.30am at St Stephen's Church, Gargrave Road, Skipton, North Yorkshire.: *Source: Caterer & Hotelkeeper magazine, 22 July 2004*
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