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3rd November 2021

Suffolk pub opens village store, café and new community seating space to support local residents

The Queen, Brandeston

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.”

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.

Editor’s Notes

Pub is The Hub is a not-for-profit organisation, which offers independent specialist advice to publicans on rural services diversification or the options for the community ownership of pubs, so they can all provide viable local services at the heart of their community.

With a proven track record of rural project development and delivery over the last 19 years, Pub is The Hub has worked with great publicans to open shops, libraries, cafes, community cinemas, allotments, play areas and much more. Since 2013, the organisation has also been able to offer small grants through its Community Services Fund.

Pub is The Hub has helped over 600 pubs diversify, with over 170 of these benefitting from help through the Community Services Fund.

Building on its community services work, in 2018 Pub is The Hub conceived its ‘Join Inn – Last Orders for Loneliness’ campaign. ‘Join Inn’, specifically looks to support publicans and their communities to become better connected, helping local people feel less isolated and, in the process helping to alleviate loneliness.


Twitter: @PubistheHub_uk


Press release from Pub is the Hub