Designer Sarah Ord and her husband, hotelier Nigel Pace, put everything they had into getting The Stack ready to open by the proposed launch date. They faced the odds – relocated, wrangled with investors and contractors, worked day and night – and finally the moment arrived.
The Stack, situated in historic Leinster Hall, Gardens, opened for business on 15 July 2015 and was everything the couple dreamed it would be. Quirky, authentic and unlike anything else in Cape Town. With roots in the old-school private members club, The Stack offered patrons a stylish brasserie where they could enjoy delicious, simple French dishes, as well as a members only upstairs area boasting a lounge, verandah, bar and three meeting rooms of varying sizes.
Tragically for Nigel and Sarah – as well as for this beautiful, grand old house – six days after they opened a fire broke out and swept through the top floor of the property. It destroyed the carefully selected antique furniture, historical books and top of the range appliances that Sarah and Nigel had spent hours collating – and took with it some of Cape Town’s colourful history.
“I still get emotional talking about it,” says Sarah. “We stood there and watched it burn. But while the firemen rushed around there was this moment when we turned to each other and swore we would do it again.”
“The damage was extensive and we couldn’t just clean up and reopen,” says Nigel. “We did look around for somewhere else, but there was simply nothing that came close to Leinster Hall. It was the perfect building for what we wanted to achieve.”
Happily, thanks to their shareholders buying the building at the end of last year, and the single minded determination of Nigel and Sarah, they got the all clear and rebuilding began.
Second time around
“We have the same vision this time around as we did initially, we truly believe in what we’ve created,” says Sarah. “The only difference is we get to do it a second time and improve where possible.”
When describing The Stack’s interior, Sarah and Nigel liken it to a modern Dandy – think fabulous well-tailored suits with bright yellow socks and a silk pocket square. “Yes, we might be modelled on a private members club, but my gosh, you’ll be wearing pink, star-spangled socks when you’re there,” says Sarah.
With Sarah’s design background and Nigel’s history in the hospitality industry, they have pooled their considerable expertise to create something unlike any other Cape Town venue. Its tongue-in-cheek, irreverent ambiance works perfectly in conjunction with a select clientele and impeccable menu.
Membership is on a referral basis and the couple are clear about the personalities that will work well in the space. “People who have an appreciation of the finer things in life,” says Sarah. “But no egos allowed!”
Nigel seconds this, “I like to say we can walk upstairs and feel comfortable having a drink with anyone in that room. Our clientele are up and coming, creative and offbeat.”
The Stack isn’t only for members however. The gorgeous brasserie downstairs is open to all and guarantees simple, impeccable French dishes and a great wine list. Says Nigel, “It’s comfortable with great lighting and simple, French food. No foams, soils or smears! Our
plats du jour will change daily and regulars will soon know on which day their favourite is served.”
The couple don’t want The Stack to be just another restaurant, just another bar where you go after work, but there’s not much chance of that. “Whatever we do, we do with a sense of humour,” says Sarah. “We have taken the private members club concept and completely turned it on its head.”
To find out more about The Stack like their Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/The-Stack-197775253736153/