FEJ AWARDS 2021 SHORTLIST: Operator of the Year for Delivery & Dark Kitchens

Operator of the Year for Delivery

The Operator of the Year for Delivery & Dark Kitchens award pays homage to the growing importance of the delivery channel to all areas of the foodservice sector. 

With the pandemic impacting eat-in dining, operators have worked hard to develop compelling delivery concepts and achieve operational excellence when it comes to either off-site kitchens or utilising existing infrastructure. The winner will be the company judged by the industry to have excelled in delivery.

We are delighted to announce that the 2021 shortlist includes the following operators:

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Dishoom significantly expanded its delivery kitchen offer in the UK during the pandemic, with sites in Brighton, Cambridge and London allowing it to get its range of Bombay comfort food to customers without them having to leave their home. The Dishoom delivery menu has been specially curated to ensure all food travels well, and includes popular items such as Keema Pau, Chicken Ruby and House Black Daal. There is also an extensive range of options for vegetarians. As well as allowing the chain to reach more guests nationwide, it has also helped to provide long-term security for employees. A number of its team have moved into the off-site delivery kitchens, while the strategy has created an additional 50 roles in the company.


The expansive fast food operator – an institution in its home nation of The Philippines – is very much committed to growth after launching a flagship restaurant in the heart of London. As part of its efforts to provide a premium fast-casual dining experience at fast food prices, it has created a delivery offer that is driven by its objective of serving up the crispiest, juiciest and tastiest fried chicken around. The success of Jollibee’s delivery proposition in cities such as Liverpool and Leicester during lockdown gave the brand confidence to map out a plan for further branches in the UK, with a £30m programme to open 50 UK sites within the next four years testimony to the way its food has been received.     

Punch Pubs

The creation of virtual brand Bull & Bird demonstrated Punch Pubs’ ability to respond to changing consumer behaviour while providing local pubs with a critical income stream in the process. First launched in three sites at the end of last year, the ‘dark kitchen’ concept saw immediate success, selling out in two of the three trial venues. Encouraged by the level of sales, response from customers and the ability of partners to adapt to the new food offer, Punch expanded the trial base to a further 20 pubs around the country. The Bull & Bird menu includes items such as freshly breaded fried chicken and loaded fries, as well as a range of burgers. The chain said it has seen a 98% year-on-year increase in spend on deliveries being made to people’s homes. 

Tim Hortons

After initial trialling delivery services in more than half of its restaurants through two service providers, the QSR has rapidly grown this aspect of its business across the UK and taken on a third partner to boot. From the outset, the company made it a priority to offer customers access to a full range of products that can be enjoyed away from its stores, which now number nearly 40 in the UK. With a menu that includes premium coffee, hot and cold specialty drinks, freshly baked goods and classic sandwiches, Tim Hortons has been able to appeal to a broad range of consumer tastes. The success of its delivery channel has been augmented by the introduction of its first drive-thru restaurants, which will eventually make up over a fifth of its locations.


With a 75% return on invested capital, Wagamama’s delivery kitchens have become a financially important part of the casual dining chain’s business model. The group’s diversification efforts have seen it open a string of dark kitchens in Greater London, but it has also made progress with efforts to expand outside of the capital. The brand’s food development team play a vital role in making sure the menu is suitable for delivery and the flow of service and equipment to support the anticipated volumes is right. New sites have been carefully selected and fitted out to reach areas where there is a high proportion of target customers that aren’t in the catchment area for delivery from the brand’s established restaurant estate.

The 2021 FEJ Awards ceremony and gala dinner takes place on Thursday 23 September, the first evening of the Commercial Kitchen show, at the Hilton Canary Wharf.



Tags : FEJ AwardsFEJ Awards 2021Operator of the Year for Delivery & Dark Kitchens
Andrew Seymour

The author Andrew Seymour

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