2023 Winners

Congratulations to all 2023 finalists and winners.

The following category winners for 2023 were determined by the nominations and votes of the senior industry. As such they are a true reflection of the views of the leadership of the UK hospitality sector.

Best Concept winner - Albert’s Schloss

Since its impressive debut in Manchester’s iconic Albert’s Hall, Albert's Schloss has stubbornly resisted expectations with its Bavarian-inspired beer hall, cookhaus and entertainment pleasure palace. Now established in Birmingham and Liverpool, the Mission Mars phenomenon continues to look for new large-footprint locations for its format-defying concept.

The finalists for this award included:

  • Albert's Schloss
  • Loungers
  • Dishoom
  • Pizza Pilgrims
  • The Ivy

Best New Opening winner – BrewDog

Not a company to do things by halves, BrewDog’s Waterloo Station location is a 27,500sq ft behemoth of a bar. The multi-levelled venue, believed to be the biggest bar in the UK by a country mile, features nearly 30 taps, a microbrewery, bowling alleys, co-working spaces and even a florist and a podcast studio.

The Best New Opening Award is sponsored by Chapman Ventilation

The finalists for this award included:

  • Albert's Schloss Birmingham
  • BrewDog Waterloo
  • Dishoom Canary Wharf
  • Control Room B (Inception Group)
  • Tattu London
  • Arcade Food Hall (JKS)

Emerging Concept winner – Casa do Frango

Part of the impressive multi-faceted MJMK Restaurants, Casa do Frango is the group’s more casual dining concept, offering authentic Algarve-inspired Piri-Piri glazed chicken. With three restaurants operating in London and more on the way, the Jake Kasumov and Marco Mendes-led company is looking to take the concept to 10-12 sites in the capital.

The Emerging Concept Award is sponsored by Greene King

The finalists for this award included:

  • Casa do Frango
  • Blacklock
  • Popeyes
  • Marugame Udon
  • Bundobust

Best Use of Technology winner - McDonald's

A multi-time winner of the Best use of Tech Award, McDonald’s continues to lead the way in this space, unveiling a £250m restaurant remodelling programme last year, which will see its sites evolve to meet modern-day omnichannel ordering demands. With improved integration of its digital sales channels, as well as its MyMcDonald’s App, teams are being provided with the technology and equipment to work together more effectively and better manage complex, personalised orders.

The finalists for this award included:

  • McDonald's
  • itsu
  • Nando's
  • Vagabond
  • LEON

Deal of the Year winner - Hickory’s purchase by Greene King

Greene King acquired Hickory’s in October 2022 with the ambition to leverage the pub company’s scale and accelerate the smokehouse group’s national rollout. Described as highly complementary to the pub operator’s portfolio and estate, the deal will see Greene King optimise its property portfolio to tap into Hickory’s growth potential, underpinned by authenticity, experience, and value. The deal saw Piper exit Hickory’s, having acquired the business for £6m in 2014, growing it to 17 restaurants and quadrupling revenues.

The Deal of the Year category is sponsored by Alix Partners

The finalists for this award included:

  • Hickory's purchase by Greene King
  • Revolution Bars Group buys Peach Pub Company
  • The Inn Collection Group acquired by the Harris Family Trusts with Kings Park Capital
  • Burger King UK acquires Karali Group
  • The Restaurant Group buys Barburrito
  • Brasserie Bar Co's sale to Alchemy Partners

Investor of the Year winner - Imbiba

Founded by lifestyle and leisure entrepreneurs and known for its backing of entrepreneurs, Imbiba provides more than just growth capital. With stakes in Pizza Pilgrims, Darwin & Wallace and Vagabond, the private equity firm recently invested £5m in Big Fang Collective to help expand its experiential crazy golf venues as well as Clays – an interactive indoor clay shooting experience bar.

The finalists for this award included:

  • TriSpan
  • Imbiba
  • McWin
  • BGF
  • Alchemy Partners

International Brand of the Year winner - Big Mamma Group

Since debuting in the UK in 2018, Big Mamma Group has launched some of London’s most popular and flamboyant restaurants. With concepts including Circolo Popolare, Ave Mario, Gloria Trattoria and most recently Jacuzzi, the Italian inspired, French-founded operator has also launched its own pizza concept, Napoli Gang, gaining a fervent following on the London restaurant scene.

International Brand of the Year Category is sponsored by Brakes

The finalists for this award included:

  • Wingstop
  • Marugame Udon
  • Popeyes
  • Wendy's
  • Tim Hortons
  • Big Mamma Group

Best Pub/Bar Company winner - Inception Group

The Best Pub/Bar Company is sponsored by Aspall Cyder

Co-founder Charlie Gilkes described its recent landmark opening within Battersea Power Station’s Control Room B as “a real career highlight” – but Inception Group is not stopping there. The experiential group recently acquired its first site in Soho, which will house its Mr Fogg’s concept, and is eyeing expansion outside London within the next 12-24 months, with Oxford, Manchester, and Birmingham on the list of cities under consideration.

The finalists for this award included:

  • Fuller's
  • The Alchemist
  • Brunning & Price
  • Inception Group
  • Greene King

Best Restaurant Company winner - JKS Restaurants

Award-winning restaurant group JKS has never been afraid of trying new things. Having traversed the boundaries of fine dining and casual restaurants, pubs and food halls - all across multiple cuisines - the group is soon to open its first international outpost in Doha under its Hoppers brand. Closer to home, a 24,000 sq ft Arcade Food Hall is in the works at Battersea Power Station for later this year.

The finalists for this award included:

  • Dishoom
  • Nando's
  • Hawksmoor
  • JKS Restaurants
  • Caravan
  • Loungers

Best Experiential concept winner - Albert's Schloss

A long-time favourite haunt for Mancunians, Mission Mars has recently expanded its ‘bier and pleasure palace’ concept Albert's Schloss to Birmingham and Liverpool. With influences from alpine Europe, the venues promise roaring fires, raucous performances, tankards of Europe’s finest bier, and endless naughtiness.

The finalists for this award included:

  • Flight Club
  • Albert's Schloss
  • Big Fang Collective
  • Laine Pub Company
  • Electric Shuffle

Best Omnichannel Brand winner – itsu

With a major digital transformation under its belt, and a continually growing grocery business, itsu is not a brand that is prepared to sit still under the direction of global CEO and founder Julian Metcalfe OBE. Last year the company broke its records and served 11.2m customers, and in Q4 its regional transactions were up 44%. Having fine-tuned its self-ordering kiosks, app and in-house operating system, itsu is now eyeing 18 new sites in 2023, including 12 franchises locations.

The Best Omnichannel Brand award is sponsored by Vita Mojo

The finalists for this award included:

  • LEON
  • Pret A Manger
  • PizzaExpress
  • itsu
  • Boparan Restaurant Group

Retailers' Retailer of the Year winner - Jane O'Riordan

Jane O'Riordan chairs some of the very best concepts in the sector, working with Turtle Bay, Red Engine and Caravan. Beginning her career as a spacecraft systems engineer with British Aerospace, before joining the strategic consulting division of Deloitte, she was previously strategy director at Nando’s Group Holdings, and managing director of Yellowwoods, a private equity firm where she was involved in the development Gourmet Burger Kitchen and Pizza Express/Gondola. Jane also sits on the Piper advisory panel.

The Retailers Retailer Award is sponsored by Uber Eats

The finalists for this award included:

  • Nick Collins
  • Alex Reilley
  • Nick Mackenzie
  • Jane O'Riordan
  • Simon Emeny
  • Roy Ellis

Rising Star winner - Anni Opong, MD, Arc Inspirations

The Rising Star winner is decided by an independent panel including the MCA team, Kate Nicholls of UKHospitality and Peter Martin A “star in the making” from the very beginning, Anni Opong has continually risen through the ranks during her tenure at Leeds-founded bar operator Arc Inspirations, from food and service quality manager, area manager and operations director, to her current role as managing director. According to CEO Martin Wolstencroft, Opong is laser-focused on continual improvement, both for herself and the business, and is a fantastic role model for young women in the hospitality sector.

The Rising Star Award is sponsored by Red Bull

The finalists for this award were:
  • Joanne Searley, group operations director, JKS Restaurants
  • Kathy Garrill, head of sales & events, Pizza Pilgrims
  • Anni Opong, MD, Arc Inspirations
  • David Carey, chief technology officer, Popeyes

Sustainability Award winner – Caravan

The Sustainability Award winner was decided upon by independent judges including the MCA team and representatives of the Sustainable Restaurant Association and Net Zero Now From energy-saving coffee making equipment, to compostable packaging and upcycled fit-outs, Caravan is a company that has sustainable operating practices written into its DNA. As CEO Laura Harper-Hinton says, the speciality coffee shop, roastery and restaurant business is looking to go well beyond carbon neutral and is setting itself the task of becoming climate positive.

The Sustainability Award is sponsored by Pernod Ricard

The finalists for this award were:
  • Hawksmoor
  • Pizza Hut Restaurants
  • Caravan
  • Mowgli
  • Azzurri Group

Lifetime Achievement Award winner - Jeremy King

The Lifetime achievement award is an editor’s choice award decided upon by MCA’s editor, Finn Scott-Delany After giving up a place at Cambridge University – and a career opportunity in merchant banking – Jeremy King cut his teeth at Joe Allen in Covent Garden, before meeting his future business partner Chris Corbin in Langan’s Brasserie. The pair decided to team up, and together took over Le Caprice. Described as the “Rodgers and Hammerstein of relaxed eating” and “the Rolls and Royce of London gastronomy”, Corbin & King operated The Wolseley, The Delaunay, Brasserie Zédel, Fischer’s and Bellanger. He left the group in April last year.


Register your interest for 2024