Community project coffee shop in Northants village pub will look to expand to weekends this summer

Feedback from customers suggested they wanted to be able to grab a coffee at the weekends too

Tuesday, 4th February 2020, 6:30 am
Rob Willoughby, owner of The Stag and Jessica Leal, who works in the coffee shop.

A coffee shop in a Northamptonshire village pub is in demand for longer hours.

The Stag in Maidwell is home to the coffee shop that aims to combat loneliness within rural communities.

Rob Willoughby, who owns The Stag, opened the coffee shop last year to add another dimension to his business.

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Now as demand increases, he is preparing to add breakfast to his menu and is looking into extending the opening hours.

Rob said: “It’s been a slow burner but it’s getting better. It’s something small but it could go quite a long way. Not everyone wants a pint these days.

“It’s open from Monday to Friday but when we asked residents for feedback they asked for weekends too, so we’ll look to expand this year.

“And we’re getting better signage on the A14 so people know what we’re doing.

“We’re really going to go for it this summer.”

The coffee shop opened in June 2019 after Rob decided he wanted to add to his business and create something else profitable.

The 48-year-old added: “We’re a small rural business so the statistics are stacked against us in terms of survival.

“Going out to the pub is less fashionable than it was so we were looking at things to combat that and that were profitable.

“We considered a village shop facility and we might still consider that as there’s nothing on the road between Northampton and Market Harborough and it’s a busy road.

“We changed our mind and put a coffee shop in.

“School is in the village so mums use us and it’s a meeting place and we’ve had big coach groups phone to ask if they can stop on the way.”

The owner contacted Pub in the Hub who offered them a £3,000 grant if they spent a certain amount and were eco-friendly.

Rob said: “All the furniture inside and outside was all going to be skipped. The wood was all recycled wood that was going to be burned.

“The slaps, the carpet tiles and the coffee machine were the only things we had to buy.

“So the price of the job came crashing down.

“We use a local coffee company, a local cake company and we tick all the buzz words like gluten free and vegan.

“The takeaway cups are recyclable, the coffee is ethnically friendly and we’re trying as much as we can to have as little waste as possible.”

Dave Allen who is an advisor for Pub in the Hub praised Rob for his project.

He said: “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.”