MALTON’S old town hall - which has stood empty for more than six years - is set to be transformed into an upmarket bar and restaurant by the end of the year.

The company Stew and Oyster Ltd, which operates four bars in the Leeds area, applied for a licence for the building in the centre of Market Place more than 18 months ago and has since been in negotiations with the owners, Fitzwilliam Malton Estate.

Previously occupied by Malton Museum, the Grade II-listed building underwent a major restoration by the estate, however has since remained empty.

Tom Mountain, operations director of Stew and Oyster, said: “If we had been moving into a new build it would have been relatively straight forward, but the town hall is a big old building so we have to ensure what goes in there is right for the building and right for the town.

“It has taken some time to get to this stage but it is great news that we are progressing things and are aiming for a winter opening towards the end of November in time for Christmas.”

Tom said they had already started the recruitment process for management staff and would be looking for general staff nearer the opening.

“Each of our properties is unique and are aim is to work with the people of Malton to find out what they want with us,” he said.

“We will be getting a feel of the town by attending different events to engage with the local residents.”

Stew and Oyster first opened a small bar in Leeds City centre in 2009. It has since been extended twice with new bars opened in Oakwood, Otley and Boston Spa.

Tom said: “We are very community-minded and a people-championing brand - not just a bar that does food. For example, at some of our other sites we provide mums and tots sessions and also cater for local dementia groups.

“We want more than to just create amazing experiences for our guests, we want to be at the heart of the communities we serve and regarded by our customers as a fundamental part of the places where they work and live.

“We are sure Stew and Oyster will work well for Malton and are delighted to be at the finally stages now.”