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Chequers new team reveal plans for smokehouse at Eriswell pub

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The new tenant and manager of an Eriswell pub have spoken about their new project, which they hope will give the site back to the community.

Lee Vaile, from Brandon, had been looking for investment opportunities after being put on gardening leave from her career in creating digital banking platforms.

The project first took hold when she drove past The Chequers, in The Street, after meeting a friend to discuss another business idea.

Lee Vaile, left, and Jason Tate outside The Chequers Pub in Eriswell. Picture by Mecha Morton.
Lee Vaile, left, and Jason Tate outside The Chequers Pub in Eriswell. Picture by Mecha Morton.

She said: “I had been in there before and saw it was up for rent. My first thought was this must be devastating for the community to not have their pub.

“The only issue is that I know nothing about pubs, but liked the idea of a smokehouse, so I put it out on Facebook for advice.”

This led to her being contacted by Jason Tate, who has been in the hospitality trade for more than 30 years, running pubs such as the Half Moon, in Lakenheath, and The Cherry Tree, in Stradishall.

He said: “Once we started messaging it just grew from there and we soon realised we shared the same passion for the project.

“After talking to Lee and hearing her ideas and what she wanted to do, it was just too tempting to ignore.”

Not only will the pub, which is being completely renovated with plans to open in November, have bespoke wood-burning smokers and a fire-pit but it is also hoped the site will be home to a farm shop.

Lee said: “We have met some vendors in the area who are producing some amazing stuff.

“I did not know this level of produce was on my doorstep so I want to collaborate to promote it to the community as best we can.”

People had taken to social media with positive feelings about the work at the pub, but there was a worry it’s name could change.

But Lee said her connection to it made it impossible to take away.

She said: “The name comes from a flag that hung in the village to reflect that it dealt with money matters like lending and savings, being a creature of the universe, that spoke to me.

“It will be called ‘The Smokehouse at The Chequers’, it has always been called The Chequers and we are not going to take that away.

“This community has been without this pub for about two years and for me it is two years too long.”

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