Loungers co-founder among winners in first casual dining awards

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Alex Reilley, co-founder of bar group Loungers, was named champion of the year alongside awards for other leading operators in the first Casual Dining Restaurant & Pub Awards.

Held as part of this week’s Casual Dining show in London, the awards recognised the achievements of bars such as The Beer Kitchen by Innis & Gunn in Edinburgh (pictured below) and The Pint Shop in Cambridge.

There were also awards for multiples including JD Wetherspoon, Ed’s Easy Diner, Côte Restaurants, Wagamama, Zizzi, and Gourmet Burger Kitchen.

The 2016 winners were presented with their awards by BBC Breakfast’s Steph McGovern at a ceremony last night (February 24) at The Grange St Paul’s Hotel in London after the first day of Casual Dining.

The award for Champion of the Year went to Alex in recognition of Loungers’ success and steady expansion to nearly 80 sites, branded as Lounges and Cosy Clubs.

He said: “I’m incredibly honoured to win this award. There are so many people who contribute to what we do as a business and I just happen to be the person who’s at the forefront of it. It’s a real honour.”

The Beer Kitchen by Innis & Gunn opened in Edinburgh last year, spearheaded by retail veteran David Hall, and is being rolled out nationally and internationally. The bars feature fresh unpasteurised tank beers, Innis & Gunn’s oak-aged brews and other world craft beers, premium wines and spirits alongside good-quality food.

Dougal Sharp, Innis & Gunn’s founder and master brewer, said: “Winning this award is the icing on the cake to a brilliant start to our retail roll-out. We’re set to launch our next bar in Dundee at the end of March with a further two sites before the end of the year.”

Chris Brazier, group event director for Casual Dining at organiser Diversified Communications UK, said: “The casual dining market is thriving, thanks in large part to the fantastic innovations and dedication of operators and the incredible dining experience they offer.

“The launch of the Casual Dining Restaurant & Pub Awards is a much overdue opportunity to celebrate their achievements and reward those companies who are making a real difference to the growth of this dynamic, fast-moving sector. The calibre of entries has been exceptional – congratulations to all our winners.”

Casual Dining Restaurant & Pub Awards 2016 winners

Champion of the Year
Alex Reilley, executive vice chairman at Loungers

New Casual Dining Concept
The Beer Kitchen

The Social Responsibility Award
Ed’s Easy Diner

Casual Dining Marketing Campaign
Zizzi for #ZizziTacklesCancer

Best Designed Independent Casual Dining Restaurant
Suvlaki, Bateman Street, London, designed by Afroditi Krassa

Best Designed Multiple Casual Dining Restaurant
GBK, St Vincent Street, Glasgow, designed by moreno:masey

Best Designed Casual Dining Pub or Bar
The Pint Shop, Cambridge, designed by Macaulay Sinclair

Independent Casual Dining Restaurant
Project Pie, Dundee

Independent Casual Dining Pub
The Northey Arms, Bath

Employer of the Year
Wagamama

Multiple Casual Dining Pub Brand of the Year
JD Wetherspoon

Multiple Casual Dining Restaurant of the Year
Côte Restaurants

Innis & Gunn Beer Kitchen Edinburgh

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