IN ITS hill top setting the Ring O’Bells in Thornton brings rewards over and above the food and drink it serves.

“Sitting outside has given customers who would usually be indoors the chance to witness the spectacular views and amazing sunsets that we see here,” said Joanne Harris, who runs the landmark pub with husband Paul. “Every night the tables are full until the sun goes down.”

On the first Saturday night after reopening back in April they were "drunk dry". Joanne laughs as she explains how Paul had to make a dash for emergency supplies. “Customers even drank our back-up stock; it was so busy. We did not know what to expect and it caught us all with such surprise - we were packed to the rafters. People came wrapped up and with such enthusiasm and support, braving the sunny but very chilly weekend.”

Since the pandemic hit they have been buoyed by their loyal regulars as well as new customers, who have continued to eat and drink at the pub.

“We are absolutely amazed by the support we have had from our lovely customers,” said Joanne. “We have been cooking, baking and coming up with new ideas to keep the menus fresh and different and we have thoroughly enjoyed it.”

Formerly a Wesleyan Chapel, the gastro pub is renowned for its traditional British classic dishes cooked using fresh, seasonal produce and local suppliers.

Meat comes from by Ellisons butcher in Cullingworth, vegetables from Threshfields in Guiseley and daily fresh fish from Hodgson’s on the east coast.

Last year saw major changes in their food offering, all of which is gluten-free. “We had to diversify into a fresh food delivery service and takeaway,” said Joanne. “Our kitchen became a bakery - we baked fresh bread.

“We truly missed our loyal regulars but have met even more customers from the takeaway during lockdown so was lovely to see them enjoying our friendly relaxed atmosphere here within our Ring O’ Bell walls.”

The couple noticed how customers’ tastes have changed over the lockdowns and have responded by retaining popular dishes on the menu.

Traditional Sunday roasts - beef, pork and turkey - are a big hit as well as fillet of salmon, and mango sticky cauliflower. Take-aways continue to be popular.

The family has owned the Ring O’ Bells since April 2016. “We cannot thank everyone enough for welcoming us,” said Joanne. “It was extremely hard at the beginning when we had barely any customers - we even wondered what we had done - but come they did, and it has been a pleasure to get to know them.”

They renovated the premises and in 2019 redecorated the restaurant. “The tables were distressed, and formal dining became a thing of the past,”.

Work on the conservatory was put on hold when Covid intervened. “The conservatory is one of our favourite dining areas especially for families and small gatherings. We have great plans for this area when things get back to normal.”

Lockdown gave them a chance to install new windows and restore the car park.

“The interior of the pub has had another lick of paint, new floors at the back of house and walls relined, so we have been quite busy.

Joanne and Paul are thrilled to have their team back with them. “Jack has been with us since we opened in 2016 as has Emily and Sophie. Ashley joined us more than two years ago.

“There’s Jaymi, Izzy T, Gracie, Isabel, Emily, Caitlin, Noah, Daisy, Marie, Lauren, Ben and our team of chefs James, Brandon and Scott. They make up the Ring O’ Bells family.”

There are plans to build a wooden lodge at the rear of the pub. “It is for customers who still want to experience or maintain the outdoor eating style we have adopted, “. “We will continue to follow Government guidelines for the foreseeable future for all our customers’ safety.

A system has been installed to register temperatures. “We will continue with this,” said Joanne. “While customers' experience has changed, our hospitality has only increased. We cannot welcome customers with hugs, but we welcome them with open arms and a huge hello.”

*Ring O’ Bells, 212 Hill Top Road, Thornton, Bradford BD13 3QL. It is open from Friday to Sunday from 12.30pm for meals and take-aways. For opening hours visit – or Facebook theringobellsthornon or call 01274 832296.