With the wit of a seasoned professional, Thomas Bond, of Tom’s Snack Bar, introduces himself as ‘Bond, as in 007’ – fitting seeing as James really is his middle name!
“Burgers are what I’m renowned for,” says the friendly 44-year-old, whose family is among the longest-serving traders on the Bury St Edmunds market.
“Anyone will tell you I’ve got the best burgers in town and I’m not just blowing my own trumpet,” he added.
The business, which he operates with partner Nicola Bax from a van opposite Sports Direct, was founded by his father, Tommy, and mother, Beryl, around 40 years ago.
“All we used to sell was burgers and hot dogs, now we sell chips – cheesy chips, curry and chips – and hot and cold drinks, and we’ve always done egg and bacon rolls,” said Thomas, who took over the business 17 years ago, having ‘done it all his life’.
He began helping out at the age of seven and left school at 11, never going to upper school, because, he says, ‘all I wanted to do was work with my dad’.
His father, in fact, died on the market three years ago.
“He died selling chestnuts on December 18. He had sort of retired but couldn’t leave the market so still sold chestnuts at Christmas,” said Thomas, proud of the fact they always built their own vans, including the one he uses now.
The closure of the Cattle Market had a big effect on trade but Thomas says the market now, for the time of year, is the quietest he has ever seen it.
He said: “Things really changed when the Cattle Market went. Wednesdays used to be really good. We always used to have lots of tables and chairs and the old boys used to yack for hours, but as soon as it went, they were gone.”
He added: “I’ve got lots of regular customers which have been coming since my mum and dad, rain, snow or blow. At the minute, if it wasn’t for our regular customers, this would be really hard.
“There are over 200 places to get food in Bury now. You go back 15 years and there wasn’t that many.”
Thomas, of Bradfield St George, has three children, Thomas, 21, Hollie, 16, and Fred, 12, who wants to take over the family business.
He said: “I thought the oldest one would do what I did with my dad but he wasn’t interested. It’s Fred that comes everywhere with us. It’s him that wants the business.”