The business was originally opened in 2001, as Melton’s Too, by Michael and Lucy Hjort. The Hjort family has owned and run businesses in York since 1990 when they opened the fine dining restaurant, Melton’s, on Scarcroft Road. In 2014, the business was renamed Walmgate Ale House. The family are passionate about using and promoting local produce. Following this passion, Walmgate Ale House is also the HQ for the York Food and Drink Festival of which Michael is Director. Michael was keen to go back to the businesses roots and develop a separate identity for the restaurant housed upstairs above the Ale House, which is now known as the Chopping Block!


The Chopping Block and Walmgate Ale House are housed in a 17th century listed building on Walmgate.

Before the Hjort family took over the building, it was owned by Ellerker’s. From 1795 Ellerker’s sold saddles, harnesses and rope. Famously, Ellerker’s was commissioned to make the hangman’s nooses for York Prison (now York Castle Museum) which cordoned the phrase “For me there is no hope – was Ellerker’s made this rope.” Walmgate Ale House and Bistro has kept the horses head figure at the front of the building from the Ellerker’s days as a symbol of pride in the building’s heritage. The interior of the Bar and Bistro also reflects the history of the building and includes ropes, saddles and old photographs from the days of Ellerker’s.

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Cat Trail

On the outside of the building, you will see a Cat. Our cat is one of around 22 cat statues across the city of York. Many of these cats were made by architect Toms Adams, who used the cats to mark his work. You can find the Cat Trail here.


During the 1970s when Ellerker’s was run by Paul Schofield, who sold Tarpaulins. He recalls a number of staff claiming seeing a Ghost in the Loft who moved objects, with great crashes, about the room.