Pub’s new café serves up its sustainable credentials

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A new café at The Stag pub at Maidwell in Northants is serving up hot drinks, tasty snacks and meals for its local community and visitors with a sustainable conscience.

Furniture in the café and outside on the patio has been rescued from a skip and recycled and upcycled; takeaway coffee and tea cups are fully recyclable; ingredients, from cakes to coffee beans, are locally sourced and the café has created a full-time job for a local resident who has been taken on as an apprentice.

The project is the brainchild of licensee, Rob Willoughby, with lots of family input and creativity and was developed last year with support and a grant towards costs from Pub is The Hub.  

The aim was to broaden its range of services and to create a social hub for the local community for lonely or vulnerable residents that wouldn’t necessarily visit the pub. At the same time, the café attracts walker, cyclists, groups and clubs from all over the area, generating economic investment to the area.

The café is open from 8am to 4pm each weekday serving a large selection cakes and desserts available each day, including gluten-free and vegan alternatives. Coffee is from local merchant, Jute Coffee and is freshly ground nearby. Meanwhile the café has just started to serve hot breakfasts. Apprentice, Jessica Leal, is working on social media for the business as well as serving in the café, learning a range of new and transferable skills.

Situated midway between Market Harborough, Northampton and Leicester, Rob has been the licensee of The Stag for the last nineteen years and has invested considerably in the business during those years. The pub boasts a large beer garden that hosts weddings and outdoor events, along with five rooms for B&B accommodation and food that is available seven days a week.

The pub business is a family affair, with Rob’s father, a retired accountant helping with the finances, and his sister, a marketing manager for a local firm, managing all marketing and promotion.

Rob added: “Dad is the one who has been investigating all the ways that we can become more sustainable and ‘green’ in our consumption and energy use. Meanwhile, we try really hard to respond to our customers’ demands for vegan options and the need to adapt our dishes for food intolerance, with a wide-ranging menu using local suppliers and ingredients.”

He added: “Pub is The Hub has really helped and guided us in this project and we are enormously grateful for the support of their local advisors as well as the grant towards the cost of refurbishing the café area.”

Pub is The Hub’s advisor Dave Allan commented: “Rob and his team have created a really well thought-out scheme where they have tried to be sensitive to local community needs whilst rising to the challenge of being a more sustainable business that has been able to react issues that are increasingly important to today’s customers.”

Rob Willoughby with Jessica Leal