Azzurri Group, wagamama, The Ivy Collection, Dishoom, Loungers, and The Alchemist have been named as the UK’s best pub, bar and restaurant operators at the Casual Dining Awards, which took place tonight (20 February) at the London Marriott Hotel, in Grosvenor Square.
Vardo, Cahoots, New World Trading Co, Caravan, Nando’s, The Florist, Bill’s Restaurants, and Franco Manca, were among the other leading brands who took home awards – covering everything from new openings and menu innovation to best marketing and design.
Multiple award winners included Caprice Holdings, Caravan, Dishoom, Loungers, New World Trading Co, and wagamama.
Eva Ellis, event manager at Diversified Communications UK (organiser of the awards and Casual Dining show) says: “Tonight’s fifth annual Casual Dining Awards were the best yet. It’s been a great opportunity for this vibrant, passionate, and creative industry to get together and celebrate their successes.
“Week in week out, tens of thousands of loyal customers vote for their favourite casual dining brands with their wallets. Despite the headlines and the challenging market, scores of restaurants, bars and pubs across the UK’s high streets are thriving – with their teams working tirelessly to deliver an all-round incredible casual dining experience. The Casual Dining Awards are for them – recognising and rewarding the best in the business. It’s exciting to see so much innovation, growth, and incredible dedication here. It really is a credit to this resilient sector that there is so much to celebrate!
“Standing out from the crowd is no mean feat but this year’s winners do just that – congratulations to you all!”
Award highlights included Kate Nicholls, chief executive of leading hospitality trade association UKHospitality and chair of the Tourism Alliance, receiving the Casual Dining Special Award for her outstanding contributions to the casual dining sector.
Presenting the award, Chris Brazier, Casual Dining’s group event director, says: “Kate Nicholls has an amazing ability to work and engage with those on both sides of the fence while never sitting on it. She is a much-needed powerful voice representing the broad hospitality sector, someone who is completely rational, reasoned and passionate about hospitality in the same breath.
“She can talk in jaw dropping depth, and equally can simplify the biggest, most complex issues that affect us all, so that the wider world, including the government, understand how hospitality contributes to this country. And that careers in hospitality are to be recognised, encouraged, promoted and celebrated.”
The Trailblazer of the Year Award went to Nisha Katona MBE, CEO and founder of Mowgli. In the five years since Ms Katona founded her first restaurant in Liverpool, she’s opened nine more sites across the UK, become a familiar face on TV, written three cookbooks, set up the Mowgli Trust charity to help local and regional causes, and been awarded an MBE for services to the food industry. Mowgli has also featured twice on the Sunday Times Virgin Atlantic Fast Track 100 list.
“Like all good trailblazers, Nisha leads by example,” says Ms Ellis, presenting the award. “Whether it’s supporting her teams, personally training her chefs, or speaking to her customers on twitter, her mission is to enrich the lives of her staff, her guests and their communities, through a culture of grace, intelligence and graft.”
The Casual Dining Awards winners in full: www.cdawards.co.uk.