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All-you-can-eat meat feasts help turn pub's profits around

PUBLISHED: 13:43 30 September 2019 | UPDATED: 15:19 30 September 2019

Julie Oatham, landlady of the Butchers Arms at East Ruston. The pub was forced to shut for a couple of months last year, but has since sought to put itself at the centre of the community. Picture: Stuart Anderson

Julie Oatham, landlady of the Butchers Arms at East Ruston. The pub was forced to shut for a couple of months last year, but has since sought to put itself at the centre of the community. Picture: Stuart Anderson

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An all-you-can-eat meat feast has helped put a pub back at the heart of its community - a year after it was forced to close.

Julie Oatham, landlady of the Butchers Arms at East Ruston. The pub was forced to shut for a couple of months last year, but has since sought to put itself at the centre of the community. Picture: Stuart AndersonJulie Oatham, landlady of the Butchers Arms at East Ruston. The pub was forced to shut for a couple of months last year, but has since sought to put itself at the centre of the community. Picture: Stuart Anderson

The appropriately named Butchers Arms in East Ruston, near Stalham, offered the buffet in September as part of a rolling programme of themed dinners, club nights, meet-ups and live music.

Landlady Julie Oatham said of the meat feast: "We had beef, pork, turkey, gammon and liver. You could just keep going back to the table to help yourself until you could eat no more. We try to do a themed event every other week. We've got an American one coming up, and a Greek one - they always do really well.

"We've also got gluten-free food and a vegan menu with things like peanut and avocado burgers, and quinoa burgers."

Rising overheads and shrinking takings forced Mrs Oatham to close the pub in late September 2018. But a few days later, two businessmen from Lowestoft, Sam Cole and Mark Oakes stepped in and offered to buy the pub and have Mrs Oatham stay on for at least a year.

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The pub was closed for two months, during which time it was made a 'village asset'. Mrs Oatham said things had been going better than ever since then.

"We're in a happier place for sure," she said. "We're going from strength to strength, which is rare in this day and age when there are still a lot of pubs closing.

"We've been doing more events and becoming more of a community pub.

"We have a chess club every other Friday with members aged from nine to 82, and we've got a walking group, a craft club, quiz nights, and we host the parents and friends association from the local school.

"There's nothing else in the village so we open ourselves up for anyone who wants to use it, and we've tried to offer something for every different age group."

The Butchers Arms was first opened as a beer-house in 1836 after three cottages, the middle of which was a butcher's, were combined.

Mrs Oatham said the pub would be closed for some time in early 2020 for a major refurbishment.

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