The nation’s best casual dining restaurants and pubs were revealed last night at the Casual Dining Restaurant & Pub Awards 2018, which took place at the Marriott London Grosvenor Square, following the first day of the Casual Dining show.
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 took home awards.
It was a memorable night for Living Ventures, which won three trophies including the newly introduced, and hotly-contested, Casual Dining Group of the Year Award. Its opulent Grand Pacific venue, in Manchester, also collected the ‘Best Designed Bar’ and ‘New Casual Dining Concept of the Year’ awards.
Wagamama was also celebrating – defending and retaining its title of Large Multi-Site Restaurant Brand of the Year. Another second year in a row winner was The Malt House in London, which was named best Independent Pub of the Year once again.
“We’re so honoured to scoop this award for the 2nd year. 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,” says Paul Merrett, chef-director at The Jolly Fine Pub Group.
Chris Hill, CEO of The New World Trading Co, received this year’s Trailblazer of the Year Award – the only category nominated directly by the judges. He 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 said.
ASK Italian, Las Iguanas and Pho were also highly commended in various categories.
Over 400 industry professionals were in attendance at the awards, including senior representatives 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.
“The Casual Dining Restaurant & Pub Awards are the most important annual celebration of the very best in the business,” said Chris Brazier, group event director at Diversified Communications UK, which organises 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.”
The 2018 award results in full:
Trailblazer of the Year
Winner: Chris Hill, CEO, The New World Trading Co.
New Casual Dining Concept of the Year
Winner: Grand Pacific
Best New Pub / Bar Site
The Alchemist, MediaCity UK, Manchester
Best New Restaurant Site
Bistrot Pierre, Mumbles, Swansea
Small Employer of the Year (under 20 sites)
Yummy Pub Co.
Large Employer of the Year (20+ sites)
Menu Innovation Award
Highly Commended: ASK Italian
Marketing Campaign of the Year
Pizza Pilgrims – ‘Pizza Box Art Gallery – Shoreditch’
Highly Commended: Las Iguanas – ‘Iggy and Friends’
Best Designed Pub/Bar of the Year
Grand Pacific, Manchester (designed by Michelle Derbyshire)
Best Designed Casual Dining Restaurant of the Year (under 20 sites)
Fancy Crab, London (designed by DesignLSM)
Best Designed Casual Dining Restaurant of the Year (20+ sites)
GBK, Southport (designed by Moreno Masey)
Independent Pub of the Year (under 5 sites)
The Malt House, London
Independent Restaurant of the Year (under 5 sites)
KuPP (various locations)
Multi-Site Pub Operator of the Year
Brewhouse and Kitchen
Small Multi-Site Restaurant Brand of the Year (5-19 sites)
Large Multi-Site Restaurant Brand of the Year (20+ sites)
Highly commended: Pho
Casual Dining Group of the Year
Judges for the 2018 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.