In their two years as managers of the Nags Head at Middle Rasen, Barry and Jenny Reeves have taken the pub the new heights.
Now, Market Rasen Mail readers have voted it Best Bar in our circulation area, with it beating off more upmarket rivals.
For Barry and Jenny, you might say running the Nags Head is a ‘Labour of Love’ as that is where they first met 30 years ago.
Six years later, the couple got married at the chapel just 200 yards down the road.
The couple have run cafes in Lincoln and Barry has run clubs there too, including the Canwick Golf Club.
“But this has been my local for 30 years,” said Cleethores-born Barry.
“My wife was born here. This was where we met. We thought ‘let’s have a go’.”
Since taking over the pub, the couple have installed a children’s play area and ran pantomimes.
The Nags Head is also famous for its Beer and Music festival every August.
“It was something we started ourselves. No-one does one around here. We thought we would try something different and we both like music,” Barry continued.
Another innovation was installing a Black Rock Grill, which involves heating up a lava rock to 440 degrees in the kitchen and letting the customer cook the steak to their liking in the restaurant.
“The rock grill keeps the steak moister and tastier,” Barry said.
However, the pub is noted more for its “honest, basic pub food”, with deals like £10 for two meals at times.
“We have a good name for food, otherwise people wouldn’t have voted for us. We just keep it simple. We cook most of it ourselves.”
As leaseholders of a Freehold Pub, Barry and Jenny can buy whatever beer, lager and cider they want.
They stock Guinness, Fosters, John Smiths, Amstel, Kronenberg, and Strongbow.
“We have a guest beer that changes once a week.”
Though catering for many locals, the Nags Head, sited next to the busy A631, enjoys a passing trade from people going to the coast.
To take advantage of this, the pub has gained planning permission for seven motel units, which are “just waiting to get started.”
Barry said it’s a challenge running a pub in any area, especially these days, but he is helped by “hard work from good staff.”
“I only have a couple of young lasses- Fran and Georgina. Obviously, they have helped us win. Having good staff helps create a good business.”
Barry says pubs are “vital to any village and central to any community.”
This is highlighted by the New Year’s Day Duck Race in Middle Rasen, which led to a busy pub afterwards.
Though enjoying current success, Barry is keen to come up with ideas to secure the pub’s future, such as the motel units.
But for now, he is happy to enjoy the support and plaudits of customers, which led to the Best Bar Award,
“I was stunned, gobsmacked really. We must be doing something right,” Barry added.