The Operator of the Year for Best New Concept award, sponsored by Falcon Foodservice Equipment, acknowledges that the UK foodservice market is one of the most vibrant in the world, with new operators, cuisines and business models springing up all the time.
Given the costs and challenges involved with rolling out a new venture, anybody that has successfully managed this process deserves to be applauded. The winner will be the company judged by the industry to have developed the best new foodservice concept.
We are delighted to announce that the 2019 shortlist includes the following operators:
Amadeus has completely transformed the in-hall catering offering at the Birmingham NEC with ‘The Edge’ development, the final phase of which was delivered over the past year. It has seen four new catering offers bought together under one umbrella brand, delivering an initial 15% uptick in spend per transaction that led to the concept being extended to four more halls during 2018. Incorporating Italian, grab-and-go, British classics and grill offers, the venture represents the largest investment in catering facilities that the NEC has seen in its 40-year history and follows extensive research into current foodservice trends. As part of the upgrade, the catering units were completely redesigned to aid customer flow and navigation while also maximising speed of service.
With a growing share of the population moving towards plant-based foods, contract caterer BaxterStorey has conceived a vegan concept that can be scaled across multiple sites. The first entirely vegan cafe was launched at The Royal College of Art’s flagship Kensington Campus. Designed with support from Bentley Consulting, it offers a nutritious all-day grazing menu featuring everything from energy boosting artisan coffee using plant-based milk alternatives to sprouting broccoli and tofu toasties. The company also launched its first vegan outlet in Scotland, at the University of Stirling, where an entirely plant-based menu, including vegan carrot cake and vegan sausage rolls, has provided students with access to a much wider variety of lunch options without having to leave the campus.
New World Trading Company
NWTC’s new pub concept, The Florist, combines vintage elegance with a winning food offer to deliver a proposition that sits perfectly alongside its growing portfolio of restaurant brands. Featuring a deli, rotisserie and grill-inspired menu, the kitchen operation has been suitably specced to deliver an all-day dining offer that includes a contemporary selection of non-gluten, dairy free and vegan dishes. A focus on outstanding service, effective back-of-house technology and culinary creativity has led to The Florist making a name for itself as a venue where guests receive a unique experience. Following the successful launch of its debut site in Bristol, the brand has opened in Liverpool and will roll out the concept to Watford next.
S.A. Brain & Co
Brewery group S.A. Brain & Co has made a major investment to develop chef talent with the launch of the Skills Hub and Creative Kitchen (SHACK), a state-of-the-art training concept set to benefit its own kitchens and those of the wider industry. Based at the site of the Old Brewery in Cardiff, SHACK includes equipment trials and training on food-specific creations, menu launches and essential kitchen techniques. It is also playing a key role in menu development to make sure the food offering throughout Brains’ pub estate continually evolves and suits every taste. This programme involves a 24-week process of category management, market research, recipe building and capacity management all rolled into an ongoing annual change plan.
Yard & Coop
Yard & Coop has won rave reviews after entering the fast casual dining market with a premium concept built around a unique buttermilk fried chicken recipe and 48-hour farm to fork process called the ‘Chicken Run’, including a 24-hour brining and marination stage. Its commitment to making fresh food on site has seen it invest in high-end equipment that can maintain quality, consistency and speedy production, especially during peak times. Bulk cooking and efficient holding are key to the set-up, with Henny Penny equipment used to achieve optimal taste and texture. It has just launched in Leeds, begun work on a new pop-up concept for university refectories and opened production sites in conjunction with Deliveroo.
The 2019 FEJ Awards ceremony and gala dinner takes place on Tuesday 4 June, the first evening of the Commercial Kitchen show, at the Hilton Birmingham Metropole.