Behind the scenes at The Lunesdale Arms in Tunstall

Anthea Brockbank and Nigel Brigstock

Anthea Brockbank and Nigel Brigstock - Credit: Archant

Being middle aged is no bar to running a highly successful pub - even if you don’t have much experience . Emma Mayoh reports

The Restaurant

The Restaurant - Credit: Archant

Nigel Brigstock waited 14 years for The Lunesdale Arms in Tunstall. When the 55-year-old first stepped through the doors at the lovely dining pub in 2000, he dreamed of calling it his own one day. A year ago, he made that dream a reality when he and partner, Anthea Brockbank took it on.

He said: ‘We were living in a beautiful little village not far from here. I came in with Anthea and loved it. Sometimes you just get a feel about a place. I said I wanted to buy it one day.

‘It was 14 years later that a friend told me it was up for sale. Anthea said “no”. She was a sheep farmer and had never done anything like this before.

‘But I needed a job. I was 54 and, after leaving a job as an engineer, had worked in pubs and restaurants. No one would entertain someone of my age for a job. We needed to buy ourselves jobs.

‘I was excited and terrified, Anthea was just terrified but we’re doing a good job. We’re good at it.’

The couple spent thousands of pounds redesigning and redecorating the interior as well as gutting the upstairs of the building to create a home for themselves and fixing holes in the roof.

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But the couple’s efforts have been rewarded with rave reviews and a packed dining room. Diners also travel from far afield including some Americans who specifically included the pub on their route because they had heard of its reputation.

Nigel credits their high levels of service as well as the top notch food to the pub’s success. The regularly changing menu is crafted by 26-year-old head chef, Alister Brierley and 23-year-old second chef Michael Moffat using high quality produce from local suppliers including Cornvale Foods in Melling. Real ales from local brewers including Lancaster Brewery and Kirkby Lonsdale Brewery are also put in the spotlight. Former farmer, Anthea, who is originally from Cowan Bridge, also indulges her hobby and smokes all of the salmon that is served up as starters at the Lunesdale.

Nigel said: ‘I may be biased but people who come here agree that our food is absolutely fantastic. It really is superb.

‘Our steak and ales are what people know us for and are by far our bestseller. I’m really proud of what we do.

‘Alister and Michael do a fantastic job along with the front of house staff. They are passionate. Alister will be in here 100 hours a week despite only being paid for 40. Other than the chefs, the rest of us are a little older and I think that has set us apart, too. People feel comfortable and our service is fantastic. ‘

Taking on the pub has also reinvigorated the community. If they had not taken on The Lunesdale Arms, the decision had been taken to close it down leaving a big hole in the lives of the people who live in this small village..

The pub plays host to many of the local groups, it is a meeting place for people to get together, their regular live music nights showcasing local acts are popular and they also provide a pizza takeaway service.

‘You have got to do that bit more when you’re a pub in a small community. And we want to do that bit more.

‘I had wanted this place for 14 years but I never thought it would actually happen. It’s hard work but it’s just great.

‘We have taken to it like ducks to water and we have found that we are actually pretty good at it. Now we’re looking forward to keeping going and hopefully going from strength-to-strength.’

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