It’s hardly a secret that if you apply to run an Everards pub, the interview process is what you might politely describe as ‘thorough.’. But that’s not the reason why it took Sam and Mike Loveridge EIGHT years to get behind the bar of The Stag at Barkston, a lovely little country pub they’ve made their own on the outskirts of picturesque Grantham. Their story is a story of patience, good fortune - and finding a pub they love so much they can’t ever imagine leaving.
Sam, 48, and Mike, 50, met and fell in love working in a restaurant. They worked in the catering trade - usually together, Sam front-of-house, mainly; Mike an award-winning chef but always happy to be behind the scenes - for large parts of their lives together.
In quiet moments, they often wondered what it would be like to have their own pub.
So back in 2006, they rang Everards to look into the possibility of running a pub. They were interviewed. They liked Everards and Everards liked them. Numerous pubs were lined up for their perusal. Meetings were arranged - and then Sam and Mike started to have second thoughts.
“We had three teenage children with exams looming and it just seemed like too big a step to take at quite an important family time,” says Sam.
They politely backed away. The pub dream, for the time being at least, was over.
Fast forward to 2014 and with their children all grown up and in work or at university, and with Sam fearing empty nest syndrome - “I really didn’t want that,” she says, “I’ve seen normal women go doolally when their kids leave home” - they got back in touch with Everards.
“And they remembered us. They still had all of our details on file - our pictures, interview notes, everything, it was all still there,” says Sam.
They were interviewed again. The process picked up more-or-less where they left it eight years ago.
It’s not been plain sailing. They’ve had to spend a lot of money inside the pub’s small but now perfectly-equipped kitchen. “And I think every time I go shopping I seem to come back with a new cushion or an ornament for the pub,” says Sam.
But The Stag is what they imagined it could be when they first entered in March 2014.
“I know some people will get to this point and then they get itchy feet and they want another challenge,” says Sam.
“But not us. This is what we always wanted - and now we’ve got it. We’ve put our heart and soul into this pub - and I think people can see that. It’s the best thing we ever did, so we want to stay on and enjoy it.”