From beginnings beset with disaster, THE STACK in Cape Town rose from the ashes to make a formidable comeback and is now one of the most vibrant venues in the city with an award-winning brasserie.
“The Stack was born on a fragrant afternoon in the monsoon season during a vacation in Sri Lanka”, recalls Nigel Pace. The rain poured outside and the gin flowed inside, opening up blueskies thinking and visions of a stylish club, a special space where like-minded, fabulously interesting people could come to share their love of all things fine. It would be a club that was quirky and authentic, a contemporary oasis unlike anything else in the city.
It was several years before Nigel and his wife, Sarah Ord, found the ideal location for their vision in the form of Leinster Hall in Cape Town, a graceful white Georgian building ornamented with intricate Victorian latticework, built in 1855 for a wealthy landowner and previously occupied by another private members’ club. The new club, named The Stack, merged the couple’s talents, with Pace bringing twenty years of experience in the hospitality industry and Ord, an acclaimed interior designer, applying her unique creative vision to create the eclectic interiors charged with unconventional glamour and lush colour. The contrast between the very formal building and the riot of colours and patterns inside is nothing short of electrifying.
Six days after the opening in 2015, disaster struck: a devastating fire swept through the top floor of the building, destroying antique furniture, hand-picked accessories and moulded ceilings. As they watched the labours of months go up in smoke, Pace and Ord vowed to carry on. They flatly refused to be deterred by this setback, and spent the next few months negotiating and raising capital to buy the property with shareholders. The couple rebuilt and refurnished Leinster Hall and reopened to great acclaim in at the beginning of June 2016.
Situated in one of Cape Town’s leafy neighbourhoods and on the lower slopes of Table Mountain, The Stack boasts a magnificent location with spectacular views of the surrounding crags. Cape Town has experienced an incredible resurgence in recent years, with a great choice of restaurants, galleries and shops all reflecting the city’s unique blend of cultures. In this melting pot, The Stack is the perfect embodiment of the city’s spirit: part exclusive private members’ club, part stylish, opento- all, informal meeting place. “We have a relaxed vibe here; we don’t do suits and ties, in fact, not anywhere in Cape Town, but particularly not at The Stack”, says Nigel Pace.
Walk past the fountain at the entrance, enter the club and you step into a world that melds old-school elegance with a riot of joyful colour and beautiful details that reference South African culture. Thick leopard skin carpets, chairs upholstered in eccentric abstract patterns, sparkling chandeliers and handpicked art on the walls all contribute to the exciting ambiance.
The Stack is divided into two areas: everything downstairs is open the public, while the top floor is reserved for the private members’ club. The ground-floor restaurant and bar are Eccentric, sophisticated and ingenious: the members’ lounge on the first floor is a kaleidoscopic experience. very popular with locals, and the brasserie has established a reputation as a place to enjoy great food with a focus on French cuisine, delicious vegetarian options and desserts with a twist. The service is professional and also very knowledgeable about the stellar wine list. The Stack bar is designed as a refuge from the busy outside world with a strong emphasis on conviviality. Members and locals come here for the excellent cocktails, including the club’s signature drink, The Stack: “It’s a smart gin and tonic with a twist. We use our own rosemary-infused gin, homemade lavender syrup and a secret ingredient to give it the pink colour. It has quite a reputation in the city!”
The exclusive heart of The Stack beats on the first floor, which houses the private club rooms. The members’ bar, lounge and verandah continue the eclectic decor of the downstairs spaces, with choice artworks, inviting cosy corners and the brilliant colours that are The Stack’s signature style. Members also have use of meeting suites, charmingly called The Huddle Room and The Cuddle Room, which are ideal for intimate gatherings or as an office away from the office. Other membership perks include a concierge service, free limousine transfer to and from the club within 10km, and shopping discounts for many luxury brands. Stack members are also entitled to bring along a party of three additional guests to the club.
The club’s membership has been growing steadily since it opened two years ago. Originally the majority of members were from the hospitality industry, but this focus has gradually broadened, with many new members coming from the creative and diplomatic sector. The average age of the club’s members is between 30 and 45, making for a relaxed and informal atmosphere.
The Stack offers a select programme of regular events that includes Stacks Swig, a drinks-related series that includes wine events, tastings and the annual Whisky Braai, where whisky brands offer tastings while the chefs cook up a barbecue – called a braai in South Africa – outside on the terrace. There are also Exchange events, where the club invites members who have an interesting story to tell. The Stack does not yet offer accommodation, as the building is too small, but there is a reciprocal agreement and special rates for members with the Mount Nelson Hotel just across the road. The Stack has keys to the side entrance, so members can stroll over after an evening at the club.
Pace’s favourite spot in the club is the terrace: “With a stunning view of the mountains and surrounded by lush vegetation and the promise of fine dining, there are few finer places in Cape Town to relax and enjoy breakfast, lunch or possibly even a Stack cocktail as the sun goes down!” From disaster to triumph: this is definitely a club with all the odds stacked in its favour!