East Suffolk village pub creates community cafe and shop hub

Harriet Aitchison serves a customer a coffee in the new café area.

Harriet Aitchison serves a customer a coffee in the new café area. - Credit: Matthew Usher

A popular Suffolk village pub has extended its activities by adding a cafe and shop to create a community hub to help residents.

The Queen in Brandeston has also provided an area of new community seating.

The pub, which is run by publican Caroline Aitchison, with her daughter Harriet and son Alexander, opened a village shop during the first Covid-19 lockdown and it proved so popular they have now made it a permanent fixture.

The Queen at Brandeston

The Queen at Brandeston - Credit: Matthew Usher

The nearest major supermarket is more than 10 miles away and with limited transport links in the area there were challenges for locals to get their essentials.

Part of a barn next to the pub has been converted with inside and outside seating to help bring members of the community together.

The village store, café and seating project was opened thanks to expert help and a Community Services Fund grant from Pub is The Hub, a not-for-profit organisation that helps pubs to diversify and provide essential local services.

Inside the village shop at The Queen at Brandeston

Inside the village shop at The Queen at Brandeston - Credit: Matthew Usher

Caroline, who has run the pub for the last seven years, said: “During the first lockdown when we opened a temporary village shop and we also delivered essentials and vegetable box deliveries to local residents.

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“Our local store became a lifeline to villagers so we have made it a permanent service.“

Harriet added: “The new outside seating area and café offer is also proving really popular with the locals, many of who want to meet especially in the wake of the Covid pandemic.”

The barn was converted with seating to help bring members of the community together.

The barn was converted with seating to help bring members of the community together. The Hub regional advisor Terry Stork and Harriet Aitchison - Credit: Matthew Usher

Pub is The Hub regional advisor Terry Stork said: “This family-run pub is a real hub of the community. The village store has proved really popular with those living locally and is an important amenity especially for older and more vulnerable customers who find it hard to travel.

“The seating area and café is crucial in helping those in the community connect with others to combat feelings of loneliness and isolation.”

In addition to the village shop the pub also has an ice cream parlour. It opens Thursday 10am to 3pm and 5.30pm to close, Friday 10am to close, Saturday 10am to 3pm and 5.30pm to close and Sunday 12pm to 6pm.


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