Apethorpe village pub gets new lease of life

A much-loved Apethorpe village pub will re-open its doors this weekend with a new name and new faces behind the bar.

Thursday, 16th January 2020, 12:00 pm
Jim and Suzanne Millar outside the Willow & Brook

Suzanne and Jim Millar have taken on a five-year lease of the Willow & Brook in Kings Cliffe Road and the pair have invited locals to come and meet them on Saturday evening for canapes and a drink.

The couple, who have moved from Spalding to follow their pub management dream, are opening the hostelry, formerly known as the Kings Head, two weeks ahead of schedule with their first Sunday lunch sitting filling up fast.

Suzanne said: "We are having a meet and greet on Saturday at 6pm for everyone to come along to experience the ambience and meet us and the staff.

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Suzanne stocks the bar

"It's our first venture and we want locals to have this as a community space. Our ethos is local, local local."

The couple contacted a famous ex-Apethorpe resident, Mr Bean actor Rowan Atkinson, to see if he would cut the official ribbon at his local drinking hole but they were told he would not be available.

Moving in just before Christmas with sons Freddie, 11, and nine-year-old Ryan, the family have been putting the finishing touches to the restaurant, bar, snug and outside courtyard.

Trained as a chef, Jim will be cooking whist Suzanne works front-of-house.

The restaurant

Jim said: "I cook contemporary British, hearty food with big pies and some traditional dishes with a twist.

"It's a restaurant with a bar with nice British food and drink sourced locally. Beer from the Nene Valley Brewery, Jelley's vodka, Warner's gin.

"We're supporting local businesses and keeping it local. We will even have English wines which is something that not many place serve. Our wine merchant lives in the village.

"We want people to enjoy regional food and drinks as well as classics from across the world."

The wine menu offers English wines as well as the others from across the globe

London-born Jim, 45, started his career as a head chef in nearby Woodnewton, moving on to head-up kitchens in Rutland, Leicestershire and finally Lincolnshire where he met Suzanne, 37.

It was after helping a friend follow their pub management dream that they realised that they too wanted to work for themselves.

Jim said: "If I'm going to be exhausted every day, I might as well be exhausted for myself.

"There won't be a dart board and we're not going to please everybody. We are a family and we want it to feel relaxed.

Suzanne and Jim in the snug

As their son Ryan needs gluten-free food, the restaurant will be very gluten-free friendly with chef Jim making the necessary adjustment to all aspects of the menu.

Suzanne said: "We want to be inclusive. The dining experience should be one where you can relax, have a drink, peruse the menu at your leisure.

"You will have your table and you can take as long as you want to eat. Everything will be done at the customers' time and pace."

The re-opening of the pub has created nine jobs with roles for bar and waiting staff.

Suzanne added: "Everybody has been so welcoming. We would like to thank Apethorpe, all our suppliers, and our families, for everything."

The Willow & Brook