The Hero and Icon Awards 2008
27 November 2008
Jamie's Italian has the potential to rewrite the casual dining rule book
The Hero and Icon Awards are organised annually by Peach Network, the business network for senior executives in the UK eating and drinking out market, with the aim of spotlighting and celebrating the individuals and businesses that are making a real difference.
The Hero & Icon Awards are organised annually by Peach Network, the business network for senior executives in the UK eating and drinking out market, with the aim of spotlighting and celebrating the individuals and businesses that are making a real difference.
Said Peach Network's Peter Martin: "We all need heroes to look up to and emulate, people and businesses that can inspire with their qualities of creativity, determination, leadership, and not to mention, on occasion, daring and style. And that's particularly true in tough times like these."
The awards are judged by our original Icons: John Barnes, Tony Hughes and Ian Neill, and are run in conjunction with Coca Cola, Royal Bank of Scotland, Hobart, Steelite, Ecolab, Coffer Corporate Leisure and Enotria.
Hero Winners 2008:
Newcomer Award: Jamie's Italian
Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver's move into the casual dining market, has won the Newcomer award at Peach Network's Hero & Icon Awards held in London. Said Peach Network's founder Peter Martin: "Judging by the queues outside, this should be no surprise. I think it is fair to say that Jamie's Italian has the potential to rewrite the casual dining rule book."
The runners up were:
- Taybarns, Whitbread's new value-driven, all-in-price dining concept
- Wahaca, the Mexican street-food concept from Masterchef winner Thomasina Miers
Breakthrough Brand Award: Le Pain Quotidien
The Belgian café/bakery group which has strategically established itself on the London scene with its round-the-clock offer Le Pain now has 10 London sites, including at St Pancras International and the Royal Festival Hall, and is fast becoming a meeting place of choice.
Other finalists were:
- Piccolino, Individual Restaurants' popular, and busy, Italian chain
- Ping Pong, which has brought dim-sum to the mainstream London market.
Evolution Award: Wagamama
The noodle restaurant chain, picked up the Evolution trophy, for already established businesses that continue to evolve successfully. The company, now opening its 100th site worldwide, had been the master of seamless growth: "It is a story of great management - a textbook case study of how to handle growth and vitally management transition.
Runners up were
- Frankie & Benny's, the pioneer that established casual dining restaurants outside of London
- PizzaExpress, which continues to innovate around its core menu, from its schools programme to its new upscale pizzas
International Award: Whitbread
The company has "international" running through its corporate DNA, said Peach Network founder Peter Martin. "First Costa went out to conquer the world, now Premier Inn is starting in the Gulf. The statistics speak for themselves. Costa already has 346 in 22 countries outside the UK, out of a total of 1,100 shops.
Other finalists were
- Caffe Nero, confident enough to take coffee to the Turkish, with 11 sites in Istanbul alone
- Gourmet Burger Kitchen, has shown the ambition to stake a presence outside the UK in Turkey, the Middle east and Ireland.
Consumer Choice Award: Café Rouge
The French brasserie chain run by the Tragus group, picked up the Consumer Choice award. Peach conducted research among a representative sample of over 2,000 adults asking which restaurant, pub and fast food brands they use and most importantly how they rate their "experience". Café Rouge topped the list for delivering the best customer experience.
Runners up were Nandos and Wagamama.
Leadership Award: Nando's
Nando's has carved out a national presence. It has rightly been described as the Mini of the eating out market: aspirational, but everyday, classless, fun, value-for-money, stylish and easy-to-drive.
Other finalists were:
- Dominos, which has made the delivery business its own
- JD Wetherspoon, which has reinvented itself to become as much a value food as a beer retailer
- McDonalds, which 'listens, innovates and develops' and has seen a 10% growth in the first half of the year
Industry Icon Award 2008: Pret a Manger founder Julian Metcalfe
Under Metcalfe's leadership, Pret a Manger has changed the face of the British sandwich market, setting new standards of food quality, service, recruitment and people development.
Introducing the Icon award, Tony Hughes, formerly managing director of Mitchells & Butlers Restaurants and now a director of the The Restaurant Group, said: "This year's recipient is a man of true vision and true values. His dedication to food product quality and service is a beacon and a lesson to every operator in the industry."
In accepting the award Metcalfe paid tribute to his Pret team: "I'm thrilled. I receive it on behalf of everyone here at Pret - the managers and the staff who work so hard. Thanks to everyone who has made this possible. It's a real honour."