The Operator of the Year for Best New Concept award, sponsored by XpressChef, acknowledges that the UK foodservice market is one of the most adaptable in the world, as evidenced by events of the last eight months.
As operators have adjusted to new conditions in unprecedented circumstances, the market has seen a number of initiatives and ventures introduced by established businesses, as well as the emergence of up and coming players. 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 2020 shortlist includes the following operators:
Pub operator Greene King optimised its kitchens with the roll-out of delivery and click and collect takeaway services, initially starting with its Metropolitan Pub Company division in London before expanding into other parts of the country, including the North West, East Anglia and East Midlands. A focus on providing customers with their favourite pub dishes such as beer-battered haddock and chips and Sunday roasts without affecting speed of service was central to the model, with chefs adapting to a new way of working and rising to the challenge of moving from a plated operation into a boxed operation while also contending with new hygiene and safety introduced at the height of lockdown.
The brand that bills itself as the world’s first plant-based sustainable burger chain has brought something new to the fast-casual market in the UK and emphasised the opportunity that exists within the vegan food space. The brand is committed to championing environmental sustainability and playing its part in positively impacting the environment. Its kitchens have already won an army of fans for cooking up a streamlined plant-based menu that features meat-free patties and hot dogs, while a partnership that taps into Deliveroo’s dark kitchens model has allowed the company to establish a customer base beyond the immediate vicinity of its initial London restaurants.
When Pizza Pilgrims launched a ‘frying pan pizza kit’ concept to bring some cheer amidst the gloom of lockdown, it ended up selling more than 60 times the amount it expected in the first two weeks. The company came up with the idea for ‘Pizza in the Post’ as a way to allow customers to produce their own slice of the company’s pizzas at home and pay for staff while restaurants remained temporarily closed. Orders have come from all over the UK – from Cornwall to Inverness – and the concept has even helped to significantly boost its following on social media. The company has maintained the service following the reopening of its restaurant estate.
Boparan Restaurant Group has accelerated the roll-out of the Slim Chickens brand in the UK, where it has brought something different to the fast-casual space with its offer of premium fried chicken that is fresh rather than frozen, hand-breaded and cooked to order. Speed of service is at the heart of the operation, which sets itself a time of six minutes for completing orders, whether it is dine-in, takeaway or delivery. As a result, the brand invested heavily in minimising hold-ups at all pinch points of the operation. Kitchens are organised into specific work stations and work has been carried out to ensure the optimum number of fryers.
The Good Eating Company (GEC), a subsidiary of Sodexo, has utilised its central production unit in the heart of London to create a new food concept aimed at providing a workplace food delivery solution fit for the current climate. ‘Good Eating Delivered’ has been created for urban markets and is designed to support businesses as they look to re-engage with their employees and clients in a safe and sustainable way. Menus for the concept have been designed by GEC chefs and build on the company’s ethos of providing high quality workplace food that is freshly prepared and well-executed. The venture is powered by Sodexo’s digital retail app to provide a seamless experience for ordering and payment.
Eligible senior industry professionals will be invited to vote for their winner in an online vote over the next two weeks.
The winners of each category will be announced throughout Kitchen Equipment & Awards Week, which commences Monday 30 November.