Casual Dining Awards shortlist revealed

Week in week out, millions of loyal customers vote for their favourite casual dining brands with their wallets. Despite the headlines and the challenging market, scores of innovative 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 2020 are for them.

Recognising the standout casual dining operators of the year, the shortlist includes nearly 70 brands – ranging from industry titans like Azzurri Group, Casual Dining Group, Greene King, Mitchells & Butlers, The New World Trading Co (NWTC), The Restaurant Group and Stonegate Pub Company (all competing for Casual Dining Group of the Year), to a raft of smaller independents and ‘Instagrammable’ new concepts ready for national expansion.

Organised by Diversified Communications UK, the Casual Dining Awards will take place at the London Marriott Hotel, in Grosvenor Square, on 20 February. Finalists are competing across 18 categories, including Best New Restaurant Site, Best Family Dining Experience, Menu Innovation Award, Brand Marketing of the Year, and Best Designed Pub / Bar of the Year.

Some of the operators up for multiple awards include Azzurri Group, Big Mamma Group, Caravan, Casual Dining Group, Dishoom, Franco Manca, Greene King, Honest Burger, Mitchells & Butlers, Mowgli, Nando’s, NWTC, Oakman Inns & Restaurants, Pho, PizzaExpress, The Alchemist, The Ivy Collection, wagamama, and YO!

As in previous years, there’s no shortlist for the prestigious ‘Trailblazer of the Year’ Award – just a winner who will be announced on the night. They’ll be in great company, as previous recipients include Kavi Thakrar and Shamil Thakrar, founders of Dishoom (2019), Chris Hill, CEO of NWTC (2018), David Campbell, wagamama’s then CEO (2017), and Alex Reilley, chairman of Loungers (2016).

Judges for the 2020 awards include: James Spragg, CEO of Casual Dining Group; Chris Hill, CEO of NWTC; Kate Nicholls, CEO of UKHospitality; Shamil Thakrar, co-founder of Dishoom; Nisha Katona, founder & CEO of Mowgli; Zoe Bowley, MD of PizzaExpress; Jo Fleet, MD of Flat Iron; Simon Potts, MD of The Alchemist; Ian Neill , chairman of Haché; Laura Harper-Hinton, owner of Caravan; Brian Keeley-Whiting, owner of Whiting & Hammond; Scott Collins, co-founder of MEATliquor; Peter Martin, director of CM&CO; Sophie Michell, food & drink director at Byron; and Libby Andrews, marketing director at Pho.

“The Casual Dining Awards showcase the excellence constantly achieved within our sector and gives motivation to us all to try harder,” says founding judge Ian Neill, widely known as the “The Godfather of Casual Dining”.

“The Casual Dining Awards are a brilliant opportunity to recognise and acknowledge the success of great people and great brands,” agrees Jo Fleet, MD of Flat Iron.

The Casual Dining Awards shortlist in full:
New Casual Dining Concept of the Year – sponsored by Casual Dining Show
The Chambers
Circolo Popolare
Eggslut
Gloria
Sweet Chick
Vardo

Best New Pub / Bar Site
Alberts Schenke – Liverpool
The Alchemist – St Martins Lane, London
Cahoots – Ticket Hall & Control Room, London
Duke of York (Barworks) – Haggerston, London
The Florist – Watford
Mikkeller – Shoreditch, London

Best New Restaurant Site
Dishoom – Manchester
Flat Iron – Spitalfields, London
Honest Burger – Cardiff
The Ivy – Manchester
Pho – Cardiff
Pizza Pilgrims – London Bridge
Sticks’n’Sushi – Soho, London

Sustainable Operator Award
Greene King
Mowgli
Nando’s
Oakman Inns & Restaurants
The Restaurant Group
YO!
Young’s Pubs

Employer of the Year (1-49 sites)
The Alchemist
Dishoom
Hawksmoor
Mowgli
The New World Trading Co.
Oakman Inns & Restaurants
Peach Pubs

Employer of the Year (50+ sites)
Carluccio’s
Casual Dining Group
Côte Brasserie
Loungers
Pizza Hut Restaurants UK
Stonegate Pub Company

Menu Innovation Award (1-19 sites) – sponsored by Commercial Kitchen Show
The Alchemist
Caravan
Dishoom
Food & Fuel
MEATliquor
Mowgli
Pizza Pilgrims

Menu Innovation Award (20+ sites)
ASK Italian
Franco Manca
Fuller’s
Honest Burger
Las Iguanas
PizzaExpress
wagamama

Brand Marketing of the Year – sponsored by Chef Direct
The Alchemist
Nando’s
Pho
PizzaExpress
Pizza Hut Restaurants UK
wagamama
YO!

Best Designed Pub / Bar of the Year
The Alchemist – Brindleyplace, Birmingham (designed by Macaulay Sinclair)
Blame Gloria – London (designed by Finch Interiors)
Box – Leeds (designed by Fusion By Design)
Coppa Club – Brighton
The Florist – Watford (designed inhouse)

Best Designed Restaurant of the Year – sponsored by London Design Fair
Bill’s Restaurants – Spinningfields, Manchester (designed by Focus Design)
Circolo Popolare – London (designed by Studio Kiki)
Dishoom – Manchester (designed by Macaulay Sinclair)
Gloria – London (designed by Studio Kiki)
The Ivy – Manchester (designed inhouse)
Vardo – London (designed by Box 9 Design)

Best Family Dining Experience
Bella Italia
Franco Manca
Harvester
JD Wetherspoon
PizzaExpress
wagamama
Zizzi

Pub / Bar Brand of the Year (2-49 sites)
The Alchemist
The Botanist
London Cocktail Club
Oakman Inns & Restaurants
Peach Pubs
Yummy Collection

Pub / Bar Brand of the Year (50+ sites)
All Bar One
BrewDog
Greene King
Loungers
Marston’s
Young’s Pubs

Restaurant Brand of the Year (1-19 sites) – sponsored by Coca-Cola European Partners
Big Mamma Group (Gloria & Circolo Popolare)
Caravan
Dishoom
Flat Iron
Hubbox
Mowgli
Pizza Pilgrims

Restaurant Brand of the Year (20-50 sites) – sponsored by Boutinot
Bistrot Pierre
Franco Manca
Giggling Squid
Honest Burger
The Ivy Collection
Pho
Turtle Bay

Restaurant Brand of the Year (51+ sites) – sponsored by Fentimans
Las Iguanas
Miller & Carter
Nando’s
PizzaExpress
wagamama
YO!
Zizzi

Casual Dining Group of the Year – sponsored by Carlsberg UK
Azzurri Group
Casual Dining Group
Greene King
Mitchells & Butlers
The New World Trading Co.
The Restaurant Group
Stonegate Pub Company

Trailblazer of the Year – sponsored by Trail
No shortlist