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November 16, 2018

The Stag Public House: Switched on upstairs

The Stag Public House has launched the third and final aspect of the pub's reinvention: a dedicated events space with unique East End balcony views.

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  • Words and pictures: Ellie Turner

Upstairs at Stag Public House, on the corner of Rundle Street and East Terrace, the view is quintessential Adelaide: heritage-fronted buildings  to one side, lush parklands to the other.

CityMag has documented with interest the rolling schedule of this hallmark venue’s transformation. First it was the back-to-basics front bar by Sans-Arc and then it was Blake Drinkwater’s Charlick’s restaurant next door. The third and final chapter in this phoenix pub saga is found upstairs.


The Stag Public House’s upstairs function space is available for bookings now. Learn more via their website or send your enquiries to

In one of those, ‘why didn’t we think of that’ moments, The Stag Public House has transformed its upstairs and balcony into a dedicated event space just in time to scoop up all the corporate Christmas revelry. Already the space’s calendar is getting busy, with bar manager Jamie Huffam telling us he’s lucky the entire staff is amenable to a challenge.

“We are ‘yes’ people,” Jamie tells CityMag, “and when we talk about a function everyone is excited, they want to be involved and will go to great lengths to support people’s requests and themes.

“(Upstairs) can be adapted for gatherings of any size; corporate meetings, dance parties, yoga sessions, engagements – anything. You name it. We’ll do our best to make it happen.”

Of an afternoon, the function room is calm and light. The acoustics are delicious. A metallic mint curtain, globe drop-lights, a lick of Italian Clay, tropical-themed main bar (who doesn’t love a well-placed pineapple?) and plantation shutters on the windows compliment the colonial arches and high ceilings.

A blue-buttoned retro bench seat opposes the smaller second drinks station, where booze sits on wooden shelves made from upcycled blackbutt floorboards sourced on Gumtree, and the straws are made of pasta: “Sustainable, and no weird mouthfeel like cardboard,” says Jamie. No shortage of couches, chairs or tables on the balcony bodes well for a spritz on a summer’s day overlooking the park.

The dream is to grow a herb garden up there, and some climbing vines. Based on our various forays into balcony agriculture, we wish them luck.

The space will be at the centre of several yet-to-be-announced private events when the city’s 2019 festival season takes hold, and in the meantime, Jamie says he is focusing on collaborating with local businesses alongside establishing the pub as a community meeting place, with DJs in to celebrate Ausmusic Month – “reading the crowd and playing old Aussie bangers” – and weekly Gin and Yoga sessions (yoga, followed by gin, and a cute caveat to *yoga responsibly).

“We want to collaborate with local brands and have had a great response since day dot,” Jamie says. “Lot 100 (brewery, cellar door and distillery) is having its official launch in December, and we’re hosting the after party.

“We are speaking to people about some bigger events (read: wine and live music) so I’d watch this space.”

The decor – a Sans-Arc masterpiece – drinks and eats at the venue, including the adjoining Charlick’s Restaurant, have made a sizeable shift in the hands of small bar gurus Oliver Brown and Josh Talbot, who own NOLA next door. But Jamie says The Stag’s charm since it reopened in August is underpinned by a team that celebrates customer service. It’s working, obviously, because The Stag, Charlick’s and NOLA are booked out twice over on hospitality’s Black Friday, December 21.

“We have the laneway between the venues licensed for the day as well – we pride ourselves on thinking ahead and delivering top-notch service,” he says.

If you’ve not got a function booked at this pioneering pub, don’t worry – there’s still plenty of excellent things at hand, like cold beer and 8 ball in the front bar.

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