Behind the curtains of The Fat Badger York

The HRH Group recently unveiled a £1m renovation of the Lamb and Lion as it rebrands into The Fat Badger York, reopening as a pub with rooms. Marking the first of The Fat Badger venues to have bedrooms, general manager Mike Larder discusses with Catering Today how the property has been transformed and what The Fat Badger concept entails.

What is the history of the HRH Group?

Following a background working in pubs, restaurants and hotels, the HRH Group was founded in 2011 with a number of pubs and inns in the North. Over 10 years later, the HRH Group is now an independent, multi-property group which now operates a number of boutique hotels, restaurants and traditional pubs within North Yorkshire.

Our portfolio consists of eight properties within North Yorkshire: Clementine’s Town House Hotel, York, The Guy Fawkes Inn, York, The Fat Badger, Harrogate and York, The White Hart Hotel, Harrogate, The Yorkshire Hotel, Harrogate, The Pickled Sprout Restaurant and Bar, Harrogate and The Black Horse Inn, Kirkby Fleetham.

What is The Fat Badger concept?

The Fat Badger himself is a real character, fuelled by a sense of playfulness and fun. We wanted to incorporate this into the very essence of the pub, injecting personality through our ‘cheeky pun glasses’, traditional Yorkshire pub feel, real ales, good food and large beer gardens. 

It’s important to us to have a pub that retains its traditional features and heritage of its surroundings but provides a sense of individuality too. This was the main factor when designing the new Fat Badger in York.

What inspired the rebranding of the Lamb and Lion into The Fat Badger York?

The Fat Badger in Harrogate has been a great success and it made sense to bring it to life in other cities across North Yorkshire. From the AA rosette fine dining to the traditional pub real ales, the cheeky brand of The Fat Badger has been a crowd pleaser that we just wanted to bring to York. 

We have owned the Lamb and Lion for a number of years, and whilst we have carefully transitioned it into The Fat Badger, the team and the history of the Lamb will continue in the new brand and feel of the place. We have had such a good reaction so far that it already feels like The Fat Badger has always been here in York.

What makes the group’s English pub brand different?

The Fat Badger York is a great example of a pub that merges traditional features with a sense of modernity. Whilst maintaining its historical characteristics, The Fat Badger York has a stunning range of cocktails, created by Badger’s very own mixologists, alongside an impressive breadth of craft ales and Yorkshire based gins.

We truly believe this means something for everyone, whilst also making The Fat Badger stand out in the York area and beyond. 

Why did The Fat Badger York undergo renovation?

When thinking about rebranding, the decision was also made to undertake a huge renovation, costing around £1m. The aim was to create an environment that is a blend of Yorkshire heritage, Roman history and British classic style, within the Grade II-listed buildings. In order to maintain brand consistency, the decor includes materials of wood and leather to give an organic feel and is accented with Fat Badger brand style artwork. 

What specific renovations did the property undergo?

The property renovation meant we added bedrooms, alongside a large beer garden which is inside the historic walls. Both the rooms and the beer garden have impressive views of York Minster. Moreover, emphasising The Fat Badger’s love of bringing people together, there’s also a private dining snug, seating up to 12 people, which is available to book for larger parties.

Why did the HRH Group decide to make Fat Badger York the first venue to have bedrooms?

We knew we wanted to bring The Fat Badger to York, and with such a great location already in the portfolio it felt right to transition the Lamb into The Fat Badger. With the Lamb already having rooms it was a case of making sure the bedrooms were refurbished to emulate The Fat Badger brand. It was a great challenge for us to come up with the style and design for the first Fat Badger bedrooms. With traditional materials used throughout The Fat Badger brand we have continued this into the bedrooms. 

The bedrooms were designed to make the most of the stunning Yorkshire landscape, offering city wall views or garden views and includes a range of bedroom types, from four posters to a loft suite.

What does the group hope the venue will achieve upon reopening?

The Fat Badger is predicted to be York’s favourite traditional pub with rooms. With the finest level of service and quality, alongside exciting cocktails, fine wine and award-winning, modern British food, we have no doubt that The Fat Badger will be a huge success amongst tourists and locals alike.

Are any other properties under The Fat Badger brand set to go under refurb?

We have just the two sites at present under The Fat Badger name. However, just like the cheeky Fat Badger himself we like to keep our options open, so there could be more to come from him soon.

What is next for the HRH Group?

We are constantly forward-thinking when it comes to expansions and refurbishments of our current portfolio of properties. The HRH Group is definitely one to watch, with our portfolio and popularity growing year-on-year.

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