Best Pub Brand Concept, The Publican Awards 2022
We are thrilled, exhilarated and humbled to have been awarded Best Pub Brand Concept 2022 at The Publican Awards last night. At an event filled with glitz and glamour, our team were recognised and honoured with an accolade that had someone foretold to us in the deep and dark depths of 2020, we would have chuckled and carried on. We partied into the early hours at Evolution London, who put on an amazing show, a fitting salute for our sector and the challenges we have faced over the last couple of years and continue to stare down.
But of course, it was a journey getting here.
We want to share with you a few examples that we think caught the eye of the judges throughout the Publican Awards process. A long process that begins with a detailed entry form, followed by a Head Office visit and a secret mystery shopper visit to some of our pubs. Then finally the nerve-wracking Dragon's Den style virtual judging panel that certainly had a few palms sweating!
MORE THAN JUST A COLLECTION OF PUBS
Before settling on the design and styling, the menu style and overall offering, as we turn each of our locations into modern country pubs and kitchens with fun yet contemporary interiors - we listen to locals, research our options and learn from our past experiences. The result, we hope, is each pub is unique and expresses its identity through characterful décor, in its seasonal, local menus and through its teams. The commonality within our collection is our ethos - thoughtful, creative details, an awareness for our environment, the wellbeing of our team and the importance of making meaningful connections and memories for our guests. Chestnut isn’t just a collection of pubs, inns and restaurants... It is a team of talented, dedicated and passionate people.
ADAPTING & INNOVATING
Early on in the first national lockdown we established Giving Tree, a Chestnut funded not-for-profit initiative. Our teams came together to cook and deliver over 20,000 meals for NHS workers, care workers, emergency workers and vulnerable people within our local communities.
Today Giving Tree is still very much part of our DNA. Most recently, for Random Acts of Kindness Day we made donations to charities that hold meaning for team members and their local communities.
Our Winter and Spring Gardens were our answer to ensuring life could continue safely and in an environment that offered our guests a great experience within a new normal - but most importantly, they ensured our teams could keep working throughout the restrictions. We were determined to create something that went beyond a marquee in a garden. We wanted to retain who are and what our guests had come to expect from an experience at a Chestnut pub - the response to our tipis and candlelit canopies was amazing and we are grateful to our guests for trusting us and to our teams for stepping up to deliver in such scary and challenging times.
The best way to learn, improve and grow is to talk - to each other, to our guests, and to our team members. The example we shared with The Publican judges were the surveys that we sent to our guests and team members as we geared up to welcome guests back after the first lockdown.
We shared our Six Measures of Safety, we sought feedback, we asked questions and we gaged how our guests and teams were feeling about stepping out of their homes and back into ours.
We had an overwhelming response from our guests with over 3000 responses and we gained insight into what concerns our team members had about returning to work. We did not just listen, we acted - and we hope that is why our guests to continue to return to us and why we managed to retain the vast amount of our team through the ups and downs of the last couple years.
WELCOMING FOR ALL
One of our latest (and most fun) initiatives was to firmly establish our furry, four-legged guests, as our favourite guests. Our faithful hounds are part of the family and a visit to the North Norfolk coast or a summer time pint, just wouldn't be complete without them. At each pub you will find a dog menu that includes cooked sausages for breakfast, healthy sustainable snacks and doggy beer, plus special water barrels with our very own dog friendly, special brew (water). Every overnight dog guest will arrive to find a comfy bed, towel, water bowl and tennis ball... not to mention a huge amount of fuss from our team members. Even our head office, The Tavern, is dog-friendly, with Chihuahua, Teddy, the office mascot.
We have titled this blog post Celebrating Chestnut - to us that is our team, from our chefs and our central reservations team, to our housekeepers and our commercial team, to our guest facing team members and to our finance team, to our managers and our marketeers - each delivering our Chestnut brand to our guests, day in and day out. This award is for you and we thank you.