Azzurri Group, wagamama, The Ivy Collection, Dishoom, Loungers, and The Alchemist have been named as the UK’s best pub, bar and restaurant operators at the Casual Dining Awards, which took place last night at the London Marriott Hotel, in Grosvenor Square. Vardo, Cahoots, New World Trading Co, Caravan, Nando’s, The Florist, Bill’s Restaurants, and Franco Manca, were among the other leading brands who took home awards – covering everything from new openings and menu innovation to best marketing and design.
Multiple award winners included Caprice Holdings, Caravan, Dishoom, Loungers, New World Trading Co, and wagamama.
Eva Ellis, event manager at Diversified Communications UK, organiser of the the Casual Dining Awards and Casual Dining at ExCeL London says: “Tonight’s fifth annual Casual Dining Awards were the best yet. It’s been a great opportunity for this vibrant, passionate, and creative industry to get together and celebrate their successes.
“Week in week out, tens of thousands of loyal customers vote for their favourite casual dining brands with their wallets. Despite the headlines and the challenging market, scores of restaurants, bars and pubs across the UK’s high streets are thriving – with their teams working tirelessly to deliver an all-round incredible casual dining experience. The Casual Dining Awards are for them – recognising and rewarding the best in the business. It’s exciting to see so much innovation, growth, and incredible dedication here. It really is a credit to this resilient sector that there is so much to celebrate!
“Standing out from the crowd is no mean feat but this year’s winners do just that – congratulations to you all!”
Award highlights included Kate Nicholls, chief executive of leading hospitality trade association UKHospitality and chair of the Tourism Alliance, receiving the Casual Dining Special Award for her outstanding contributions to the casual dining sector.
Presenting the award, Chris Brazier, Casual Dining’s group event director, says: “Kate Nicholls has an amazing ability to work and engage with those on both sides of the fence while never sitting on it. She is a much-needed powerful voice representing the broad hospitality sector, someone who is completely rational, reasoned and passionate about hospitality in the same breath.
“She can talk in jaw dropping depth, and equally can simplify the biggest, most complex issues that affect us all, so that the wider world, including the government, understand how hospitality contributes to this country. And that careers in hospitality are to be recognised, encouraged, promoted and celebrated.”
The Trailblazer of the Year Award went to Nisha Katona MBE, CEO and founder of Mowgli. In the five years since Ms Katona founded her first restaurant in Liverpool, she’s opened nine more sites across the UK, become a familiar face on TV, written three cookbooks, set up the Mowgli Trust charity to help local and regional causes, and been awarded an MBE for services to the food industry. Mowgli has also featured twice on the Sunday Times Virgin Atlantic Fast Track 100 list.
“Like all good trailblazers, Nisha leads by example,” says Ms Ellis, presenting the award. “Whether it’s supporting her teams, personally training her chefs, or speaking to her customers on twitter, her mission is to enrich the lives of her staff, her guests and their communities, through a culture of grace, intelligence and graft.”
The Casual Dining Awards winners in full:
The Special Award – Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UKHospitality
Trailblazer of the Year – sponsored by Trail – Nisha Katona MBE, founder & CEO of Mowgli
New Casual Dining Concept of the Year – sponsored by Casual Dining – Vardo
Best New Pub / Bar Site – sponsored by Diageo – Cahoots Ticket Hall & Control Room, London
Best New Restaurant Site – sponsored by Just Eat – Dishoom, Manchester
Sustainable Operator Award – sponsored by amber energy® – Oakman Inns & Restaurants – Mowgli
Employer of the Year (1-49 sites) – sponsored by Drink Sträva UK – The New World Trading Co – Peach Pubs
Employer of the Year (50+ sites) – sponsored by SureFoot Solutions – Loungers – Stonegate Pub Company
Menu Innovation Award (1-19 sites) – sponsored by Arla Pro – Caravan
Menu Innovation Award (20+ sites) – sponsored by Arla Pro – wagamama
Brand Marketing of the Year – sponsored by Chef Direct – Nando’s – YO!
Best Designed Pub / Bar of the Year – sponsored by Commercial Kitchen – The Florist, Watford (designed in-house)
Best Designed Restaurant of the Year – sponsored by London Design Fair – Bill’s Restaurants, Spinningfields, Manchester (designed by Focus Design)
Best Family Dining Experience – sponsored by Mademoiselle Desserts UK – Franco Manca – PizzaExpress
Pub / Bar Brand of the Year (2-49 sites) – sponsored by Fourth – The Alchemist – Oakman Inns & Restaurants
Pub / Bar Brand of the Year (50+ sites) – sponsored by Budweiser Brewing Group UK&I – Loungers
Restaurant Brand of the Year (1-19 sites) – sponsored by Schweppes – Dishoom – Flat Iron
Restaurant Brand of the Year (20-50 sites) – sponsored by Boutinot – The Ivy Collection – Pho
Restaurant Brand of the Year (51+ sites) – sponsored by Fentimans – wagamama – Nando’s
Casual Dining Group of the Year – sponsored by Carlsberg UK – Azzurri Group – Casual Dining Group
For further information, including the full list of finalists and judges, please visit www.cdawards.co.uk
See the winners at Casual Dining Show at ExCeL London, next month on 25-26 March
Many of this year’s Casual Dining Award winners (and finalists) will be attending their industry show – Casual Dining at ExCeL London, next month on 25-26 March.
The show’s stellar Keynote line-up includes interviews with ‘trailblazer’ Nisha Katona, the Azzurri Groups’ CEO Steve Holmes, Casual Dining Group’s CEO James Spragg, Lounger’s CEO Nick Collins, and Baton Berisha, MD of The Ivy Collection & Bill’s. While the bosses of YO!, New World Trading Co, The Alchemist, Flat Iron, and Oakman Inns & Restaurants will be heading up a raft of exclusive, insight-packed panel sessions. Timings are available here: www.casualdiningshow.co.uk/keynote-programme
To register for a free trade ticket, please visit www.casualdiningshow.co.uk and use priority code CD10