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Isleham restaurant The Merry Monk owners celebrate 20 years in business

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A family are celebrating 20 years in business since taking over a restaurant.

Adrian Smith and his wife have run The Merry Monk, in Isleham, near Newmarket, since August 2 2002, with the couple’s two sons having followed their parents in to the business by joining their father to work as chefs in the kitchen.

“It’s what they wanted to do so we let them do it. We enjoy working together but it’s also very hard work and as it’s a family enterprise, we all want to get it right every single time,” said Adrian.

Sons Thomas and Jacob with mum Michelle and dad Adrian Smith
Sons Thomas and Jacob with mum Michelle and dad Adrian Smith

“It would be good to see them take over the business eventually, but who knows.

“The business has been refurbished a few times since we started out with the most recent renovation being during the first lockdown so it’s changed a lot over the last 20 years.

“I still get the same buzz working there though and I’ve always loved cooking, so I enjoy being in the kitchen, even though it’s hard work. You have busy days and tough days, but generally it’s good fun. Every day is different.

“The past 20 years has gone by in the blink of an eye, but it’s been a great experience.”

“Being family run is probably one of the key reasons for our success. We do everything on site, including making our own bread and ice cream.

“We offer classic dishes with little twists and good portions and everyone is committed to getting everything right each and every day. It’s totally family orientated and we’re all invested in doing a good job.

“We’ve become friends with many of our customers too and having that familiarity makes for a good atmosphere. We’re very grateful to all of our customers of course, because we wouldn’t be where we are without them. The heart of any business is its customers and its staff.

“In terms of celebrating the day, we don’t have anything big planned, but we are closed that day so we’ll probably go out for a meal together.

“We are also hoping to do something special for our customers but we haven’t finalised any details on that yet, so we’ll ask everyone to keep an eye on our social media."