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Ben’s Restaurant in Bury St Edmunds becomes farm shop




A restaurant owner has taken two strategies for his eateries as customers give contrasting messages about returning.

Ben’s Restaurant in Churchgate Street, Bury St Edmunds, has been operating as a farm shop for the past two months for two days a week as a way of helping their supplier.

But Queens Bar & Grill, just a few doors down, has now reopened to customers. Owner Ben Hutton said the contrasting strategies were necessary to adopt after to help recover after the hardship on trading caused by Covid-19.

Bens Restaurant in Bury St Edmunds has become a farm shop selling local produce during the lockdown. Picture (L-R) Rebecca Hutton and Ben Hutton..Pic - Richard Marsham/RMG Photography. (39576645)
Bens Restaurant in Bury St Edmunds has become a farm shop selling local produce during the lockdown. Picture (L-R) Rebecca Hutton and Ben Hutton..Pic - Richard Marsham/RMG Photography. (39576645)

“We have been open for five and a half years, and this has had a drastic impact - I could not think of anything worse,” he said.

“We are a functioning group and we did not expect to be closed for three months. It could not have come at a worse time.”

Staff were put on furlough for the period, and the Ben’s Restaurant ‘experience’ was brought to Queens Bar & Grill - which has now reopened with some staff taken off furlough. Mr Hutton said: “Queens has a younger clientèle, and it has been seen around the country that younger people are raring to go - whereas the older generation are being more cautious.

“We have always used local produce and it (the farm shop) is something we have had in the back of our minds for a year.

Bens Restaurant in Bury St Edmunds has become a farm shop selling local produce during the lockdown. Picture (L-R) Rebecca Hutton and Ben Hutton..Pic - Richard Marsham/RMG Photography. (39576651)
Bens Restaurant in Bury St Edmunds has become a farm shop selling local produce during the lockdown. Picture (L-R) Rebecca Hutton and Ben Hutton..Pic - Richard Marsham/RMG Photography. (39576651)

“We thought a good way of helping our suppliers and also helping our own business, would be to sell their produce. It supports us and them at the same time.”

The shop is now open inside the restaurant from 9am-3pm on Saturdays and Sundays, with a view to increasing opening hours.

Ben’s also operate their own farming and rear their own livestock to supply the restaurant with pork products and lamb. The shop is selling these products as well as: soft drinks, alcohol, oils, condiments, local meat, gifts, and artwork, mostly produced in Suffolk.

“We opened at the start of June and a lot of our regulars have come into the shop and we have had some new people as well,” said Mr Hutton.

“We have had quite a few come into Queens and they have been offered a menu similar to Ben’s. They are still getting an experience similar to it.”

Bens Restaurant in Bury St Edmunds has become a farm shop selling local produce during the lockdown. Picture (L-R) Rebecca Hutton and Ben Hutton..Pic - Richard Marsham/RMG Photography. (39576629)
Bens Restaurant in Bury St Edmunds has become a farm shop selling local produce during the lockdown. Picture (L-R) Rebecca Hutton and Ben Hutton..Pic - Richard Marsham/RMG Photography. (39576629)

“I can’t tell how much longer this will go on for,” he added.

“We cannot make the restaurant work with the social distancing needed and it is too small to bring everyone off furlough.

“The clientèle is older at Ben’s, so they are more reluctant to come back.”


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