When it comes an alternative to the staff Christmas party, thoughtful Cumbrian bosses have found a way to thank their teams with a purely Cumbrian gift. Working with Chestnut House in Pooley Bridge, they have created bespoke Taste of Cumbria Hampers that not only say thanks to staff but supports local businesses too.
In the week before Christmas, Chestnut House – the Pooley Bridge grocers and off-licence owned by Andrew and Emma Kaye, has been extra busy collating and packing over 300 Christmas Hampers for businesses across Cumbria, and delivering them so bosses can say thanks to staff before the holidays.
Companies including Allan Stobart Fuels, Raughton Head, Dowson Blades in Workington, British Gypsum at Kirkby Thore and David Britton Estates Penrith, selected Cumbrian treats to make very personal hampers.
Steve Hindmarsh, General Manager at Allan Stobart Fuels Limited said “We wanted a special thank you for our staff this Christmas, so when one of our team heard of Chestnut House through from someone who had visited the shop, we gave them a ring. They were excellent at helping us with a pick and mix selection that would be right for our staff. Very friendly and helpful from start to finish and what’s more, it’s a Cumbrian Hamper. Our staff were delighted with them – and so were we.”
Cumbrian Estate Agent David Britton ordered hampers from Chestnut house for the second successive year – and this time, doubled up the size of the hampers for his staff. David Britton said “Throughout the lockdowns I’ve shopped local and was really impressed with how the Chestnut House Team supported the community. Our staff loved the products included in the hampers last year and I know they will do the same again.”
Jane Warner, Senior Administrator at British Gypsum explained why they chose to give Cumbrian hampers to staff for Christmas. “We wanted to provide all 190 employees with a thank you gift as we can’t get together to celebrate this year. We wanted to support a small local business and so we chose Chestnut House. Andrew came up with the great idea of filling them with local produce and so we managed to support 9 local businesses and not just 1! We’d just like to say thank you to everyone involved for pulling it off at such short notice it was great working with them – Andrew and his team at Chestnut House have been fantastic!”
Andrew Kaye said “British Gypsum wanted something quickly and we were able to jump right on it because we’d anticipated demand for purely Cumbrian hampers in the summer when shop visitors were enquiring in the summer. And because we work with so many local producers, we’ve been able to come up with a great range of ‘pick and mix’ items that include things you won’t easily source else – Cumbrian Hampers – all packed with 100% Cumbrian flavours.
“It is also good to know that choosing one of our hampers means several other local artisan food and drink producers benefit too. We’d like to say a big thankyou to our suppliers who pulled out all the stops to get the goods to us and to our fab team of staff who pulled the hampers together and delivered on time.”
Pam Critchley from Dowson Blades Limited said “This year more than ever, we wanted to treat our staff over Christmas. After Chestnut House pulled out all the stops, supplying and delivering essential groceries during lockdown, we felt that supporting local producers and suppliers was the only way forward. The team at Chestnut House could not have been more helpful from beginning ot end. The hampers they created for our staff were stuffed with local products and beautifully presented. It was a real pleasure to deal with them and I highly recommend them.”
In light of the new changes to Christmas gatherings, Chestnut House Hampers are also proving popular with families who are making last minute orders on-line for loved ones they can’t see, or for themselves if their Cumbrian Christmas break has been cancelled.
Emma Kaye said “It seems that even when they can’t visit, people still want a taste of Cumbria – and we know that when they do come back – they’ll pop back to Pooley Bridge when they can, so it’s a win for everyone.”
The shop is open all year round (except Christmas Day), open well into the evening during the summer, but closing early evening in winter.
You’ll find plenty of celebratory spirit at Chestnut House in Pooley Bridge. Andrew and Emma Kaye have created a shop that is much more than an independent grocers and off-licence. It has become a tourist (and gin lovers) attraction, maintaining the accolade as Trip Advisors top spot – 1st of 160+ for shopping in Cumbria..
In 2016, Andrew and Emma opened Chestnut House, their two-storey grocery shop and off licence. Vowing to offer something different, they’ve developed a shop that has a passion for locally sourced produce as well as the biggest wall of gin in the North West and a quirky and extensive range of other spirits, liqueurs and beers too.
Appearances are deceptive, from a small shop front, Chestnut House is like a Tardis; fresh food and an off-licence downstairs, and revealing an upstairs food hall that more than caters for self-catering visitors and locals alike.
Proud to support Cumbrian businesses, Andrew and Emma seek out local producers for everything from bread to beer, gives visitors a real taste of Cumbria. Favourites include fresh pies and meat prepared by Low Howgill – the award-winning Appleby butchers who sources meat from Eden farmers rearing beef from traditional British breeds.
The small, tight knit team, know the provenance of the food they sell – just ask them about the local bakers, chutney makers, beer brewers and spirit distillers and you’ll get an education.
But it’s not just the food shopping that has given Chestnut House its retail reputation – it’s their love of gin and the prolific – ever-expanding ‘Gin Wall’, coupled with enthusiastic, knowledgeable staff and their sampling table (outside of Covid-19), that has turned Chestnut House into a destination shopping experience.
- Over 400 gins
- 70+ Local ales
- 50+ Rums
- 50+ Vodkas
- Local liqueurs
Alongside the 400+ gins on offer is the Chestnut House brand – Cumberland Saucy Gin. It was Andrew’s idea, he wanted to create a contemporary gin that had Cumberland tradition at its heart, so this gin has more than a nod to the delicious fruity Cumberland Sauce served with cold meats.
The simple botanical mix shares the characteristics of the iconic Cumberland Sauce regularly served with cold meats any time of year – but especially during the festive season. You’ll find juniper berries, redcurrant, orange peel, black peppercorns and a hint of mustard and coriander.
There’s a definite hint of Cumbrian Christmas in the taste. Sweet orange and tart redcurrants to the fore gives it a citrus fresh taste which mellows into warming spicy tones for the perfect festive finish. It gets a thumbs up from visitors and gin lovers across the country.
It has been said that in a world where most craft gins seem to stuff tens of botanicals into their recipes, this wonderful Cumbrian brand stands out for its simplicity.
It’s not surprising that Cumberland Saucy Gin outsells all other gins. Perhaps it’s because it’s a regional gin, perhaps for the flavour – or perhaps, for visitors who haven’t heard of Cumberland Sauce, it’s for the apparently risqué name!
Emma says “Our front of house team is great with customers and they have a love of gin too. Daren Todd is a real character and everyone who meets him really appreciates his enthusiasm and his knowledge.
“Caroline Goodwin is our newest member of staff, she tried new gins every day as part of her training and is great with customers. We all like to find out what visitors like so we can make recommendations – and every day (in normal circumstances), there are dozens of different gins to sample. Getting the right one is important. For most it’s about the taste, but with so many stylish bottles, it makes choosing even harder.”
Pooley Bridge and its iconic ‘bridge’ has been attracting visitors for centuries, but in the last 5 years the village has become a destination for repeat visitors for another reason too: A gem of a shop with good old fashioned customer service, a massive bank of gin knowledge and a tasting experience that will be etched on your memory for a lifetime.
Andrew sums up “Who wants to walk into a shop that’s the same as any other – we’re not like that. The experience we offer in-store simply can’t be replicated on-line – it’s about localness, tasting and customer interaction – having said that, for visitors – online is a lifeline when they want to buy more! ”
The shop is open all year round (except Christmas Day), well into the evening during the summer, but closing early evening in winter.
Chestnut House open all hours – just like the TV programme & with a hamper full of Cumbrian flavour
Chestnut House – the Pooley Bridge grocers and off-licence owned by Andrew and Emma Kaye, is renowned for its entrepreneurial spirit, being open all hours, and for the colourful characters who work there. The team has just brought Christmas cheer to the shop during a festive photoshoot where they chose to emulate comic actors from Award Winning British Comedy ‘Open All Hours’.
Andrew said “During the lockdowns we felt it was important to make sure we stayed open all hours to serve the local community as best we could – Pooley’s equivalent of Arkwright’s Corner Shop. There were times during the day that we were the only shop open in the village and people relied on us for their basic shopping as well as our home delivery service. One or two customers commented that Darren and I are a comic duo, so we had fun one morning with a photographer who was taking pictures of our Christmas Hampers.”
Chestnut House anticipated growth in artisan Cumbrian hampers because they had been approached by numerous local businesses looking for a pure ‘Taste of Cumbria’. Through the summer they developed a range of ‘pick and mix’ Cumbrian Hampers – all packed with 100% Cumbrian flavours. Over 300 hampers are currently in production for businesses right across the county.
Emma said “ We’re a small, tight knit team so we all know the provenance of the food we sell – just ask us about the local producers: the farmers and butchers, the greengrocer, the bread and cake bakers, jam and chutney makers, beer brewers and spirit distillers and you’ll get an education – and it’s been great to work with them to all to create truly Cumbrian Christmas gifts.
We’re getting a lot of on-line orders from family members who can’t come to Cumbria for Christmas – sending hampers gives them a taste of Cumbria even when they can’t visit.”
Taking advantage of a temporary bridge closure, Andrew and Emma posed for pictures on the new Pooley Bridge demonstrating social distancing 2 metres apart with their front of house team Darren Todd and Caroline Goodwin. Back at the shop Andrew and Darren mimicked Arkwright and Granville – the Open All Hours characters played by Ronnie Barker and David Jason.
Their excellence in customer service and wall of 400+ gins makes it a destination shopping experience – earning it the top shopping spot: 1st of 160+ for shopping in Cumbria by Trip Advisor.
The shop is open all year round (except Christmas Day), open well into the evening during the summer, but closing early evening in winter or you can of course buy through this website.
Pictures: Chestnut House Team celebrating with Christmas Hampers. Andrew Kaye and Darren Todd play Arkwright and Granville. Staying safe – 2m apart on Pooley Bridge. Andrew with Corporate Hamper delivery.