Regional operator readies for staggered reopening

By Emily Hawkins contact

- Last updated on GMT

Ready to go: pub staff at the the Packhorse Inn in Moulton, Suffolk, will be among those following Chestnut's safety strategy
Ready to go: pub staff at the the Packhorse Inn in Moulton, Suffolk, will be among those following Chestnut's safety strategy

Related tags: Coronavirus

East-Anglian pub operator Chestnut has used a survey of pubgoers to formulate a reopening strategy revolving around limited numbers and a focus on outdoor seating.

The Group plans to stagger the opening of its 11 pubs over the course of July, with several opening for diners and inn bookings on the first day permitted (Saturday 4 July).

Chestnut Group has developed six measures of safety
Chestnut Group has developed six measures of safety

Chestnut sent a survey to its customer base and received more than 2,300 respondents, with punters giving their views on what measures they would like to see and how confident they feel about visiting a site for a drink, meal or overnight stay.

Almost 70% of those who responded said they wanted to return within the first two weeks of reopening and 95% said they would like to return within a few months. 

Nine in ten guests highlighted a desire to see more outdoor seating while almost three quarters (74%) said they would prefer a limited number of guests.

The Group has since developed six measures of safety (pictured), which includes pre-booking measures, sanitising stations, revised seating plans and clear signage at all touch points. 

Hard work

Philip Turner, founder of Chestnut said: “Our reopening has been a long time coming and we have been working very hard behind the scenes to make sure we are ready for our guests. 

“We want everyone to feel excited about the prospect of coming to visit us again and reassured that we will be doing everything to ensure their families are safe and well looked after.

"We need our guests to return in order to bring our properties to life once again and the team and I can’t wait to get back to doing what we do best.”

The group carried out refurbishments at two sites - The Ship Inn, Dunwich and The Westleton Crown - over the course of the closure period, which was necessitated by Prime Minister Boris Johnson ordering the shutdown of pubs to control the coronavirus outbreak in late March.

Some 60 volunteers from the business also helped a local not-for-profit scheme The Giving Tree​ in helping to cook, package and deliver over 20,000 free meals to hospitals, care homes and communities in need.

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