Instead, the 13-strong food-led collection went on the offensive, reaching out to its customers across East Anglia and engaging and motivating its staff, making them feel a part of the family.
The result is a brand with a reputation to match the quality of its pubs, with a database of loyal fans that has grown by tens of thousands over the past two years, and a business that is emerging from the crisis stronger than ever.
Since 2020, the group has added three sites, with two more due to open spring 2022, and giant, spectacularly decorated tepees have expanded trading areas as more guests choose to drink and dine al fresco.
Open kitchens make for a lively focus at some sites, while local drinkers are not forgotten thanks to bar areas in every pub serving local cask beers. Letting rooms furnished to the same high standards as the rest of the venue are another feature of the estate.
Yet, while each pub retains its own identity and character, with head chefs devising their own menus, a subtle rebranding programme is designed to signal the common high level of service operating across the group.
Giving back to communities
Regulars now know they’re in a Chestnut house, and surveys show the pubs have improved their reputation in the minds of guests, too.
Charitable activities that started in lockdown have continued under the umbrella of The Giving Tree, and a Chestnut Club loyalty scheme has been launched as the group looks to deepen its relationship with local communities still further.
The collection is certainly filling a gap in the market for high quality drinking and dining, and there is plenty of scope for further expansion of the concept.