By Anne Pickles POOL Court, the restaurant reputed to have kick-started Leeds' stellar fine dining reputation is to close on New Year's Eve, after 40 years at the top of its game.
Renowned restaurateur Michael Gill, who has served the Queen, presidents and world leaders in his time, is to close Leeds' first – and even now only – Michelin Star restaurant, to start a new life in France.
Mr Gill has been a well known figure in Yorkshire and a highly respected pioneer of his city's now celebrated eating-out scene for nearly four decades.
His restaurant has been a fixture in the Michelin Guide and present in the Good Food Guide annually since 1972. Pool Court, first located at Pool Bank and more recently at 42 The Calls, Leeds, has been at the pinnacle of Yorkshire's restaurant and hospitality scene since 1966.
But the last meal will be served at Pool Court on New Year's Eve, ending a long era under the famed Gill brand.
Next year Michael and his wife Hanni, will leave Yorkshire permanently for a new life in France, where they have owned a home for several years.
Mr Gill said: "Forty years is a long time in any job. We've been very lucky to make a living out of something we have loved so passionately.
"I've always felt it important to leave with standards intact – while we are still at the top."
Daniel Gill, Michael's son and Managing Director of upmarket Leeds company Dine, said : "My father's life's work has been Pool Court and I think it is fitting that it will be closed on a high-note after 40 years of serving customers and friends and receiving continuous accolades and recognition.
"This is not only credit to my mother and father, but also the team that has served there throughout."
Michael Gill has worked with many of the restaurant industry's leading lights. These have included Marco Pierre White, Antony Worrall Thompson, Brian Turner, Loyd Grossman, Anton Mosimann and Pru Leith among others.
A number of world leaders have enjoyed Pool Court's hospitality in the magnificent setting of the State Dining Room and The Gallery at Harewood House, where Michael was the Director of Catering for more than 10 years.
They have included the Queen, President Bill Clinton, Henry Kissinger, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, President Gorbachev and F.W de Clerk – to name but a few.
Mr Gill said of those grand occasions: "I am extremely grateful to Lord and Lady Harewood for their kindness and support. It is an enormous privilege to have enjoyed the opportunities Harewood House has given to myself and Pool Court."
Well-known visitors to Harewood House will not be left wanting after his departure. Dine, under the direction of Daniel Gill, will cater for all special visitors.
Pool Court's little sister restaurant Brasserie 44 will continue under the tutelage of General Manager Steve Ridealgh.
Steve – Michael Gill's right-hand man for more than 30 years – and the Brasserie team will continue to deliver at the popular riverside eatery.