We all have our favourite local pub, and thanks to the dedication and popularity of 24-year-old barman Matt Loveridge, The Stag at Barkston is amassing more and more regulars. The impact he has had on the success of the Church Street pub saw Matt earn the prestigious title of Employee of the Year at the Grantham Journal Business Awards. We spoke to Matt about his win, the rest of the team at The Stag, and how the pub has managed to buck the trend that is hitting the pub trade.
How did it feel to be named Employee of the Year?
It feels great to be recognised for the work I’m doing with my family at The Stag. With many other roles and professions, employees can be shown how well a job they are doing with quantitive data from targets and sales figures, etc, whereas in a more customer-centric job, all feedback is qualitative and open to interpretation. So winning this award really shows that the job I’m doing is making a difference.
Who makes up the team at The Stag and how long have you been involved?
The main core of the team is made up of my mother Sam, father Mike, and me. Yet everyone who is part of the team has a say, and ideas which are all valid. I’ve been with them from the start, and we have been at The Stag for just over two years now.
What can people expect when they come to The Stag at Barkston?
People can expect a warm and friendly welcome from an old world village pub, with great real ales and wines. On the food side they can have a rustic pub classic for a quick bite to eat, which is all homemade and locally sourced. Alternatively, for a longer more elegant evening, we offer great a la carte menu, yet still in a relaxed and friendly environment. Again, all the food is homemade and locally sourced.
We are seeing a lot of pubs closing down or being converted – what has been the secret of your success, and how important do you think it is to keep these facilities in villages?
Yes there are a lot of pubs shutting down around the area, and it could be due to many reasons, but I really think the core of the problem revolves around value for money. People today, when they go out for a meal, don’t mind paying the money if they think they are getting great value, which is one of our main philosophies here at The Stag. Alongside that, people really appreciate the hard work we put into every dish on the menu, with everything being made from scratch. But for many pubs, the drinking trade isn’t what it was, and the pubs can’t manage to match chain pubs on drinks prices, so you need to be able to bring the customers in with great food.