After hours: The Chequers
FORDHAM — Stop me if you’ve heard this one: A guy walks into a small village pub that appears from the outside to be a relaxed and quaint place to grab a pint.
But the patron walks in and is greeted by a handful of sullen regulars and an owner who seems like he’d rather not even have your business. If the patron gets past this initial "who-are-you-and-what-the-heck do-you-want-here?" vibe, he has an awkward two-minute pint and gets out of there.
Fordham is a village, but The Chequers is not a village pub. By any means. And that’s how Ian Salmon envisioned the place when he bought it seven years ago.
"Village pubs are so cliquey," he said. "They either like you or they don’t like you, and people aren’t accepted sometimes."
In the end, Salmon opted for a comfortably intimate place that is perfect for the 26-and-up crowd to relax and get just a little loose, without the unwelcoming vibe of some village establishments.
"That’s what it’s all about," said Salmon, a veteran restaurateur from London. "If people want to go and get smashed, they go to Newmarket. Many people just want to go out and feel comfortable, not worrying about having any trouble."
From the smooth, dimly lit decor to the very friendly bar girls, The Chequers makes you feel welcome from the minute you walk in.
The menu primarily features some tasty Indian fare, but also showcases pub food. They cook a very nice sirloin, as well.
Most of the patrons come from nearby Cambridge or Bury St. Edmunds, Salmon said, and the vibe reflects that.
"It’s not really a ‘Fordham’ thing," he said. "If you look at Cambridge or Bury, they are more multicultural societies. That’s what we aimed for."
Every Wednesday is rock ’n’ roll night, Thursdays offer card games, and Sundays feature live jazz.
Salmon said a fair amount of Americans check out The Chequers, often looking for something different, just like their British counterparts.
"I wanted somewhere where anybody could walk in and just feel comfortable," Salmon said. "Everything’s just got a nice flow. That’s the best way of describing it."