Why This Yorkshire Restaurant Won the 2017 Travelers’ Choice Awards

The Black Swan at Oldstead became the first British restaurant to top the Tripadvisor Travelers’ Choice Restaurants world list. What goes into running a Travelers’ Choice-winning restaurant?

Welcome to the Black Swan at Oldstead

The Black Swan at Oldstead sits in a small stone-covered cottage on a tree-lined lane in Yorkshire. Mixing traditional Yorkshire cuisine with a swirl of creativity and eccentricity, this Michelin-starred restaurant is all about old-fashioned hospitality. They treat everyone like family.

“We are a family-run business and I think our friendly, welcoming approach is what our guests really enjoy,” says Banks. “Our aim is to serve the best and most interesting dishes but with a relaxed, friendly atmosphere for everyone.”

A Passion for Local Ingredients

At Black Swan, the food is the star of the show. “Our focus is on showcasing amazing food made from local ingredients,” says Banks. “We grow a lot of the produce we use in the restaurant on our own farm and that dictates what we have on our constantly evolving tasting menu.”

But great ingredients are just the foundation. “From there, the creative process when adding a new dish is a very collaborative one. Ideas can come from anywhere, and then we work together as a team to hone those ideas into the best dish possible.”

Hospitality is All About Staff

But the Black Swan experience goes well beyond food. It’s the hospitality that matters. When it comes to delivering extraordinary consistency year-round, Banks is clear. “We have a fantastic team but consistency is down to everyone’s passion every day. So often jobs in hospitality are seen as a stop gap for people, but everyone who works at the Black Swan is professional and driven for a career in hospitality and that makes a difference.”

For Banks, that means that part of the staff is also family. “Running a family business is brilliant,” he says. “You have the support of the other [family] members and that can remove a lot of strain from day to day responsibilities.”

Great Experiences Generate Great Reviews

To win a Travelers’ Choice award, the highest honor Tripadvisor bestows, restaurants must have consistently excellent reviews and ratings from real diners over the course of the year. For Banks, building great experiences starts the virtuous cycle of more and better reviews, which helps continue to spread the word about their restaurant. Says Banks, “Customers are the most important part of any business and without doubt the best PR you can ever have.”

Even after winning multiple awards, Banks keeps customer feedback as one of his top priorities. “This award is based on our customers’ feedback and that is exactly who we like to be judged by,” says Banks. “It’s a real pat on the back for all the team, who have done a fantastic job looking after our guests.”

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Last Updated: 8 December 2018

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