The UK’s foremost casual dining restaurants and pubs were revealed on Wednesday 21 February at the Casual Dining Restaurant & Pub Awards 2018, hosted at the Marriott London Grosvenor Square, at the culmintaion of the first day of the Casual Dining show. More than 400 industry professionals attended the awards, including executives from PizzaExpress, Azzurri Group, Casual Dining Group, Mitchells & Butlers, Novus Leisure, Crowne Plaza, Redcomb Pubs, Charles Wells, Dishoom, Faucet Inn, Hubbox, MEATliquor and Red’s True Barbecue.
Living Ventures, wagamama, Bistrot Pierre, Brewhouse & Kitchen, Loungers, The Alchemist, Flat Iron, GBK, and The New World Trading Co (NWTC) were among the operators who received awards. Judges for the awards included Bob Ivell, chairman of Mitchells & Butlers; Karen Forrester, CEO of TGI Fridays UK; ‘industry legend’ Ian Neill; Mark Fox, former CEO of Bill’s; Joycelyn Neve, MD of Seafood Pub Co; Brian Keeley-Whiting, owner of Whiting & Hammond; and Kate Nicholls, chief executive of The Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers.
It proved to be a memorable evening for Cheshire-based Living Ventures, which celebrates its 25-year anniversary this year, The Group won three awards, including the new and hotly-contested, Casual Dining Group of the Year award. Living Ventures’s Grand Pacific, in Manchester, also won for the ‘Best Designed Bar’ and ‘New Casual Dining Concept of the Year’ awards.
Asian food chain wagamama retained its Large Multi-Site Restaurant Brand of the Year award. The Malt House in London also successfully defended its Independent Pub of the Year award this year.
“We’re so honoured to scoop this award for the second year,” says Paul Merrett, chef-director at The Jolly Fine Pub Group. “Last year’s win not only boosted our marketing campaign, it also had a terrific motivational impact on the whole team. A casual dining award in my sector, is the trophy we all want to win and I’m super proud of the guys at The Malt House in Fulham
Chris Hill, CEO of The New World Trading Co, received the 2018 Trailblazer of the Year award – the sole category nominated only by the judges. Hill said he was ‘humbled and stunned’ to win and dedicated the award to his “incredible” team.
“NWTC is an exceptional company that does things a little differently and we have had amazing success to date. We have an exciting time ahead and I feel lucky to do what I do, with a team of incredible people around me. To be recognised in this way is testament to the ethos of all in NWTC and I can’t wait to share this success with them,” he says.
ASK Italian, Las Iguanas and Pho were also highly commended in various categories.
“The Casual Dining Restaurant & Pub Awards are the most important annual celebration of the very best in the business,” says Chris Brazier, group event director at Diversified Communications UK, organiser of the awards and Casual Dining show.
“Once again the sheer quality of this year’s awards finalists – over 80 restaurant and pub operators from across the country – was exceptional. Standing out from the crowd is no mean feat in such a hugely competitive sector. But our 2018 award winners and highly commended recipients do just that. From the big names to the smaller independent operators, they have been singled out for their continuing commitment to driving innovation, inspiring creativity and delivering an all-round incredible casual dining experience. Congratulations again to each of our fantastic winners,” says Brazier.
The 2018 award results in full:
Trailblazer of the Year – sponsored by Lamb Weston
Winner: Chris Hill, CEO, The New World Trading Co.
New Casual Dining Concept of the Year – sponsored by Reynolds
Winner: Grand Pacific
Best New Pub / Bar Site – sponsored by Ribena Sparkling
Winner: The Alchemist, MediaCity UK, Manchester
Best New Restaurant Site – sponsored by Fentimans
Winner: Bistrot Pierre, Mumbles, Swansea
Small Employer of the Year (under 20 sites) – sponsored by amber energy
Winner: Yummy Pub Co.
Large Employer of the Year (20+ sites) – sponsored by Boutinot
Menu Innovation Award – sponsored by Essential Cuisine
Highly Commended: ASK Italian
Marketing Campaign of the Year – sponsored by Casual Dining
Winner: Pizza Pilgrims – ‘Pizza Box Art Gallery – Shoreditch’
Highly Commended: Las Iguanas – ‘Iggy and Friends’
Best Designed Pub/Bar of the Year – sponsored by Commercial Kitchen
Winner: Grand Pacific, Manchester (designed by Michelle Derbyshire)
Best Designed Casual Dining Restaurant of the Year (under 20 sites) – sponsored by London Design Fair
Winner: Fancy Crab, London (designed by DesignLSM)
Best Designed Casual Dining Restaurant of the Year (20+ sites) – sponsored by Procure4
Winner: GBK, Southport (designed by Moreno Masey)
Independent Pub of the Year (under 5 sites) – sponsored by Budweiser Budvar UK
Winner: The Malt House, London
Independent Restaurant of the Year (under 5 sites) – sponsored by Access
Winner: KuPP (various locations)
Multi-Site Pub Operator of the Year – sponsored by McCain Foodservice
Winner: Brewhouse and Kitchen
Small Multi-Site Restaurant Brand of the Year (5-19 sites) – sponsored by Wing Yip
Winner: Flat Iron
Large Multi-Site Restaurant Brand of the Year (20+ sites) – sponsored by Coca-Cola European Partners
Highly commended: Pho
Casual Dining Group of the Year – sponsored by Carlsberg
Winner: Living Ventures
About Casual Dining 2018
Keynote Theatre speakers and panelists at Casual Dining 2018 included Zoe Bowley, UK & Ireland MD of PizzaExpress; Brian Trollip, operations director at Dishoom; Nick Collins, CEO of Loungers; Luisa Fernandez, marketing director at Yo!; Paul Merrett, chef director and owner of Jolly Fine Pub Group; Chris Knights, group executive chef at Young’s & Geronimo Pubs; Antony Bennett, head of food at Loungers; Glenn Evans, head of food development at Las Iguanas, La Tasca and La Vina; chef/restaurant consultant Jay Morjaria; Christian Rose, MD of All Star Lanes; Jeremy Simmonds, co- founder & MD of Competitive Socialising; Simon Woplin, F&B operations manager at Picturehouse Cinemas; and Mike Berry, head of content at Fleet Street Communications.
For further information, please visit www.casualdiningshow.co.uk.