Taming The Wild Man: Nicola Warren meets the mother-and-daughter team behind the changes at the Sproughton pub

Marta Sais at The Wild Man at Sproughton

Marta Sais at The Wild Man at Sproughton - Credit: Gregg Brown

I think it’s fair to say that the last time I visited The Wild Man at Sproughton, it was looking a little rough around the edges.

The Wild Man at Sproughton

The Wild Man at Sproughton - Credit: Gregg Brown

This week, I returned and was surprised to see the car park so busy for a Wednesday at 2pm. Inside, it was very buzzy, with lots of the tables filled with groups enjoying meals.

In the middle of it all was Marta Sais making a hot drink at her pride and joy – an Italian coffee machine.

Marta and her mum Jill Meek took over the pub in September last year and you can notice the changes they’ve made already.

The walls are a fresh magnolia colour and they’ve installed a wood-burning stove in between the two dining areas.

The Wild Man at Sproughton

The Wild Man at Sproughton - Credit: Gregg Brown

Fairy lights sparkle on the walls and there’s a twinkling tree as you enter the pub too.

Jill’s originally from the north-east and brought Marta up in London. Marta lived in Ipswich for nine years before moving to the pub.

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They’ve both got a long history of working in the food industry – Jill has worked in catering, while Marta has been front of house, most recently at Arlingtons and the Hadleigh Ram.

“We have always discussed it as something we might like to do together,” said Marta. “We decided to go for it last year.”

They have bought the lease for 15 years and together are trying to tame this village pub, making it more welcoming, particularly to families.

The Wild Man is famous for its carvery and you’ll still find it here, with a choice of meat and vegetables, plus a vegetarian option, and home-made Yorkshire puddings.

“We have tried to upgrade the carvery,” said Jill. “We use fresh meat and vegetables and get as much as we can locally.”

The meat comes from Cracknell’s butchers, for example, and potatoes are provided by Farmfields.

As well as the carvery, there’s an a la carte menu to choose from.

Marta is half Catalan, and some Mediterranean, and international, dishes have made it on to the menu, but as Jill says, that’s what pub grub is nowadays.

Alongside Spanish chicken and Moroccan vegetable tagine, you’ll find grill dishes such as rump steak and plenty of fish and vegetarian options on the menu. In addition, there are set lunch and dinner menus.

“We want to offer good quality for value – we are here for the long run, we’re not doing it not to make a quick buck,” said Marta. “It’s just about finding our feet and trying to stick with it.”

Members of staff who were already working at the pub have stayed on, and are taking all of the changes in their stride.

“We are doing daily changes and the staff are embracing it,” said Marta.

It’s not just the menu the pair are changing – they have plans to continue decorating, develop the outside area and offer a hot and cold counter, including freshly baked cakes.

They’ve just installed a 50-inch television to show Six Nations rugby matches on, with a view to showing more sports, but only in the separate bar area.

The pair have been getting involved in the local community too, running a bar at special events at the nearby Tithe Barn.

“We want to start doing at least one quiz night and one music night a month as well,” said Jill.

As I can see when I visit, the changes have been popular with visitors.

“A lot of people have wished us luck and keep coming back,” said Marta. “There are a lot of changes we want to do, but Rome wasn’t built in a day.”

In the mean time, I hope to visit again soon and try out the delicious-sounding menu.

n Find The Wild Man on Bramford Road, Sproughton. For more information, visit www.thewildmaninn.co.uk or call 01473 742102.