Bar operators triumph in Casual Dining awards

The Alchemist MediaCityUK

Living Ventures, Loungers and The New World Trading Co were among winners at this year’s Casual Dining Restaurant & Pub Awards.

Held last night after the first day of the Casual Dining show in London, the annual awards recognise achievements in bars, pubs and restaurants operating in the casual dining sector.

Living Ventures was named casual dining group of the year and also picked up the award for best new pub or bar site for The Alchemist at MediaCityUK in Salford (pictured) and also awards for best designed bar and new casual dining concept of the year for Grand Pacific in Manchester, designed by Michelle Derbyshire.

Chris Hill, CEO of The New World Trading Co (NWTC), received this year’s Trailblazer of the Year Award – the only category nominated by the judges. He said he was “humbled and stunned” to win and dedicated the award to his incredible team who work across sites including The Smugglers Cove in Liverpool, The Oast House in Manchester and The Botanist group of bar-restaurants.

He added: “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.”

Other winners included Loungers, operator of the Lounge and Cosy Club bars, which received the award for large employer of the year with more than 20 sites.

Brewhouse & Kitchen was named best multi-site pub operator of the year, Yummy Pub Company won the award for small employer of the year with less than 20 sites, and KuPP took the title for best independent restaurant of the year with under five sites. See below for the full list.

The awards took place at the Marriott London Grosvenor Square last night ahead of the second day of Casual Dining at London’s Business Design Centre today.

Chris Brazier, group event director at Diversified Communications UK which organises both the show and the awards, said: “The Casual Dining Restaurant & Pub Awards are the most important annual celebration of the very best in the business. 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. Congratulations again to each of our fantastic winners.”

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, managing director of Seafood Pub Co; Brian Keeley-Whiting, owner of Whiting & Hammond; and Kate Nicholls, chief executive of the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers.

For more on the Casual Dining show taking place today, visit

The 2018 award results

Trailblazer of the Year – sponsored by Lamb Weston
Winner: Chris Hill, CEO, The New World Trading Co.

New Casual Dining Concept of the Year – sponsored by Reynolds
Winner: Grand Pacific. Manchester

Best New Pub / Bar Site – sponsored by Ribena Sparkling
Winner: The Alchemist, MediaCity UK, Manchester

Best New Restaurant Site – sponsored by Fentimans
Winner: Bistrot Pierre, Mumbles, Swansea

Small Employer of the Year (under 20 sites) – sponsored by amber energy
Winner: Yummy Pub Co

Large Employer of the Year (20+ sites) – sponsored by Boutinot
Winner: Loungers

Menu Innovation Award – sponsored by Essential Cuisine
Winner: Haché
Highly Commended: ASK Italian

Marketing Campaign of the Year – sponsored by Casual Dining
Winner: Pizza Pilgrims – “Pizza Box Art Gallery – Shoreditch”
Highly Commended: Las Iguanas – “Iggy and Friends”

Best Designed Pub / Bar of the Year – sponsored by Commercial Kitchen
Winner: Grand Pacific, Manchester (designed by Michelle Derbyshire)

Best Designed Casual Dining Restaurant of the Year (under 20 sites) – sponsored by London Design Fair
Winner: Fancy Crab, London (designed by DesignLSM)

Best Designed Casual Dining Restaurant of the Year (20+ sites) – sponsored by Procure4
Winner: GBK, Southport (designed by Moreno Masey)

Independent Pub of the Year (under 5 sites) – sponsored by Budweiser Budvar UK
Winner: The Malt House, London

Independent Restaurant of the Year (under 5 sites) – sponsored by Access
Winner: KuPP (various locations)

Multi-Site Pub Operator of the Year – sponsored by McCain Foodservice
Winner: Brewhouse and Kitchen

Small Multi-Site Restaurant Brand of the Year (5-19 sites) – sponsored by Wing Yip
Winner: Flat Iron

Large Multi-Site Restaurant Brand of the Year (20+ sites) – sponsored by Coca-Cola European Partners
Winner: Wagamama
Highly commended: Pho

Casual Dining Group of the Year – sponsored by Carlsberg
Winner: Living Ventures

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