Suffolk Pub Opens Village Store, Café And New Community Seating Space To Support Local Residents

The Queen in Brandeston, Suffolk has opened a village store, café and new community seating area to help local residents.

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 that it has become a permanent fixture. The nearest major supermarket is over 10 miles away and with limited transport links in the area there were challenges for locals to get their essentials.

Part of a barn, which is situated beside the pub, was converted with inside and outside seating, to help bring members of the community together.

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

The store offers a range of essentials along with a specialist range of Italian and Spanish products, while the seating area, which includes both inside and outside seating, was developed within a barn on the site.

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.

“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.”

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.”