The romance of running a pub!

Simon and Denise at The Stag Mentmore
Simon and Denise at The Stag Mentmore

Following its closure some 19 months ago, The Stag at Mentmore is hoping for a renewal of old friendships as well as the forging of new ones as they re-open to the public.

The Stag re-opened on Tuesday, November 4 under the watchful eyes of new managers Simon Sparrow and Denise Redding, with a brand new look.

Gone is the large, dual level restaurant and lounge bar. In its place you will find a 1920s themed Art Deco, cocktail lounge and a smaller, more intimate restaurant.

If, however all you want is a pint while you catch up with friends, don’t worry the well-loved public bar (re-named Froggy’s Bar) is still there!

Denise and Simon come to Mentmore following a three-year tenancy at The Wheatsheaf in Bow Brickhill and as owners of The Queen’s Head, a freehold pub in Wing.

When asked “why Mentmore?”, Denise said: “My first job after training as a chef and leaving college was here at The Stag, it’s where I first met Simon and it’s always been a very iconic venue.”

Simon agreed, saying: “I was head chef here 25 years ago and as we met here it’s a bit of a romantic thing too!

“We had very good times, so when the opportunity arose to come back we thought it would be great to go back to those times again!”

When asked about the 1920s theme and Froggy’s Bar Denise added: “Cocktails are very ‘in’ now, but what we didn’t want for The Stag was a flashy modern cocktail bar because that wouldn’t have suited it – the Art Deco really came from there, it just seemed to fit The Stag.

“Prohibition during the 1920s was a time when one would drive out, go to somewhere remote to enjoy some alcohol, and because you do have to drive out to The Stag it kind of all went together.

“As for Froggy’s Bar, that was inspired by our boss when we first worked here; Michel Regal. Michel was responsible for putting The Stag on the map with his dining experiences, and was very good at bringing the community together to a village pub – quite an achievement really, particularly as he is French!

“He was a well-loved figure in the community and because the pub’s been closed for so long we wanted a focus that some of the regular customers would be able to relate to and bring them back in.”

Denise added: “With the baby grand piano we’re really gearing ourselves towards having plenty of live music, plenty of jazz if we can, dinners and things like that just to create a different type of venue – there isn’t anything else like it around here.

“Obviously we want it to be successful as a business, but we also want it to be somewhere people want to come, whether it’s people from the village, who just want to come and enjoy a pint and catch-up with friends in the bar, or someone who wants to celebrate a special occasion in the dining room; we want to create a warm environment where people feel happy and want to stay and want to return.”

With a baby grand piano at the pub, The Stag is gearing itself towards having plenty of live music. Denise said: “ Plenty of jazz if we can, dinners and things like that, just to create a different type of venue.”