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Regional pub group prepares to reopen as 95% of guests say they’re ready to return

PUBLISHED: 17:57 24 June 2020 | UPDATED: 18:50 24 June 2020

Philip Turner of the Chestnut Group is looking forward to reopening all his pubs  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Philip Turner of the Chestnut Group is looking forward to reopening all his pubs Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

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An East Anglian pub group is planning a phased return as it eases out of lockdown.

Inside the Black Lion in Long Melford before lockdown. Chestnut Group pubs will be taking a number of new measures after polling guests  Picture: CHESTNUT GROUPInside the Black Lion in Long Melford before lockdown. Chestnut Group pubs will be taking a number of new measures after polling guests Picture: CHESTNUT GROUP

The Chestnut Group – which owns 11 pubs across the region, will be opening four of them on Saturday, July 4, and the others over the next two weeks.

Group founder Philip Turner said they had been working hard behind the scenes to prepare for reopening, and getting things right.

“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,” he said.

MORE – ‘We refuse to give up’ - owner keeps pub spirit alive after coronavirus ban

A survey of Chestnut guests found a whopping 95% were ready to return to their local.

The company polled more than 2,300 people with a survey which helped it to formulate its reopening plans.

The results highlighted measures guests would like to see in place, with 90% of guests wanting to see more outdoor seating and 74% favouring a limit on guests in the properties.

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Almost 70% of respondents said they wanted to return within the first two weeks of re-opening.

Chestnut has adopted six “measures of safety” which it is rolling out across the pubs.

They include new pre-booking measures, sanitising stations, revised seating plans and clear signage at all touch points.

On Saturday, July 4, the Crown Inn in Stoke by Nayland, the Ship Inn in Dunwich and the Globe Inn in Wells-next-the-Sea and The Weeping Willow in Barrow will open their doors. These will be followed on July 11 by The Packhorse Inn in Moulton, near Newmarket, a rebuilt Three Blackbirds in Woodditton, near Newmarket, and the Eight Bells in Saffron Walden.

The Westleton Crown will relaunch on July 17, followed by the Northgate in Bury St Edmunds and the Rupert Brooke in Grantchester July 18. The Black Lion in Long Melford will re-open on July 25.

“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,” said Mr Turner.

During lockdown, the Ship Inn has undergone a makeover, and the Westleton Crown has been refurbished, with new 34 individually styled rooms,

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