York’s ‘people’s bar’ is set to close later this year – but exciting plans have been drawn up for the venue’s future.
Sam and Jan Robinson admit they feel ‘bittersweet’ about closing 1331 on Grape Lane after 20 years.
It will shut on Sunday, 26 May after one final party.
But the couple, who have created a truly unique venue, will still be on hand as the next chapter for the building begins.
Sam told YorkMix that he and Jan had started to talk about moving on after Covid hit. But making the news public felt very strange.
“It’s all a bit weird, you know?” he said. “When we talk sat and talked about it after Covid, things just felt a bit different. It’s kind of a bittersweet. We will be sad, because we’ve met a lot of great people and great staff.
“I’d rather go out with a big bang, and we’re still young enough to carry on doing other things.”
1331 has always been a must-visit bar, for its special atmosphere, as well as the innovations, like the first floor cinema.
“I think that everyone in York has been to a party in 1331 at some point,” said Sam. “If you hadn’t been to a party at 1331 you’d barely been anywhere!”
The friendly staff who know so many of the regulars by first names have always made it especially welcoming.
“I think 1331’s quite unique. We’re a very approachable bar. You can have a 60-year-old sat next to a 20-year-old, and they’re totally fine. It’s for everyone.
“It’s a people’s bar.”
The bar was one of the first of venues of its kind in York to be licensed to host weddings. The very marriage was for Shed Seven singer Rick Witter and his wife Claire.
And the last was for two members of 1331 staff.
Plans for the future
The ground floor of 1331 is to be taken over by Sam and Jan’s son Stephen Andrews.
His Fish&Forest restaurant has outgrown its Micklegate home. It will reopen in the ground floor, courtyard and beer garden of 1331 after they’ve been converted in the spring.
Then, on the first floor, Sam, 56, and Jan, 61, will open their new restaurant. Called Pig And Potato, “it’s basically sausage and mash,” says Sam.
But these sausages will be home made, from high welfare pigs on Anna’s Farm in Howden.
“It’s a happy food,” said Sam. “You’re never sad if you have sausage and mash.”
Meanwhile the couple will continue to run the members-only pool club on the third floor.
Talented chef Stephen began his career in hospitality working at 1331, moving on to be its manager.
He launched Fish&Forest as a pop-up in Spark:York 2018 before moving to the current site on Micklegate.
It’s attracted attention within the food scene, after being recognised in the Michelin Guide for its Commitment to Sustainable Gastronomy; being recently listed on Harden’s; as well as receiving an AA Rosette.
Sam said: “Stephen’s just gone from strength to strength. It’s good for him to be able to move into another building and expand and grow.”
As for 1331, “the last party will be the 26th of May. But that’s our party to say thank you and goodbye to everyone. And a new chapter starts.”