Casual Dining – one of the year’s most hotly-anticipated trade event launches – proved a big hit with buyers last week. The two day show, which opened at the Business Design Centre in London on 26-27 February, attracted 3,655 attendees (excluding revisits) from across the casual dining sector.
Combining a bustling central trade exhibition with a packed programme of standing-room only Keynotes, Casual Dining delivered on its promise to be the dedicated event that this dynamic sector had been waiting for. Offering established and new casual dining operators the opportunity to meet up with existing and potential suppliers, to network, discover new products, and keep up with changing market trends, Casual Dining was hailed as a significant and overwhelming success by its organiser, Diversified Communications UK. More importantly, feedback from across the show floor has been full of praise for the launch
Anthony Pender, managing director at The Yummy Pub Co (who appeared at the show as part of the Future Directions of the Pub Sector panel, hosted by Propel Info’s managing director Paul Charity), was equally upbeat – calling Casual Dining a “welcome change” to the trade show calendar, and complimenting its “diversity of stands”. He added that he “would definitely recommend more pub operators visiting Casual Dining next year”.
The show’s aisles were buzzing with a ‘who’s who’ of the sector, with many of the UK’s biggest pub groups and branded restaurant chains in attendance – including Amber Taverns, Ask Italian Restaurants, Browns Restaurant & Bar, Carluccio's, Drake & Morgan,
Enterprise Inns, Fuller, Smith & Turner, Giraffe Concepts, Gondola Group, Greene King, Hard Rock International, Jamie Oliver Restaurant Group, JD Wetherspoon, LAS Iguanas, Living Ventures, Mitchells and Butlers, Nando's, Spirit Pub Company, T G I Fridays UK, The Restaurant Group, Tragus, Wagamama, Wahaca, Whiting & Hammond, Whyte & Brown, Yo! Sushi, and Zizzi Restaurants.
More than 1,300 independent outlets were also represented; of those, around a fifth (21%) cited a corporate spend in excess of £500,000.
Restaurants, pubs and bars, and wholesalers and distributers were by far the show’s biggest audience (31%,23% and 15% respectively), followed by contract caterers at 12% and hotels at 9%.
Casual Dining Innovation Challenge Awards 2014
“As a way of showcasing London Velvet to our potential customers, Casual Dining delivered on every level. We were able to engage with both independent free trade operators and large restaurant and pub groups alike – a perfect visitor mix," comments David Green, owner of London Velvet. A crafted blend of Porter Ale and Fine Cider, William Sharvatt’s London Velvet was commended at the event’s first Innovation Challenge Awards.
Designed to promote and celebrate genuinely new ideas in the market, including brand new innovations and new twists on established concepts, the Innovation Challenge Live saw 15 finalists pitch their ideas to a panel of industry judges on the second day of the show. The panel included Karen Jameson, acting head of food at Nando’s; Jo Haslam, director at TLC Inns; and Simon Stenning, foodservice strategy director at Allegra.
Casual Dining Innovation Challenge Gold Award recipients were Haywood Drink Products for Liquor Whipped – a 14% premium vodka infused drink and dessert topping; and Purbeck Ice Cream for Dorset Blue Vinny Ice Cream – a natural and versatile ice cream made with Dorset Blue Vinny Cheese.
“We are thrilled and excited to win this award, recognising the accolade for the product as well as the imagination and creativity of our fabulous team!” says Hazel Hartle, co-founder
of Purbeck Ice Cream.
Winterhalter’s UC Series DeMatik warewasher was also commended for it eco-credentials.
Casual Dining Interior Design Award Winners 2014
Show highlights included the announcement of the winners of Casual Dining’s prestigious Design Awards. Reflecting the importance of design in conveying brand identity, creating ambiance, and, ultimately attracting and retaining customers, the awards highlighted the abundance of creativity at work in today’s casual dining establishments. The shortlist included selected interior design projects from thirty-nine finalists.
Under the chairmanship of leading design commentator David Worthington, chairman of Designersblock and H&M Group, the judges (Afroditi Krassa, founder of Afroditi Krassa Design, who was commissioned by Julian Metcalfe to design the Itsu brand; Theo Williams, creative director of Designed and Sourced, and former head of design at John Lewis Home; and Simon Kincaid, associate director of Conran and Partners) applauded the number of exciting award entries; commenting that had inspired much debate among the panel.
Best Designed Independent Restaurant winner:
Graze Bar, Brewery & Chophouse in Bath (operated by Bath Ales, designed by Simple Simon Designs) – “It looks great, stylish, welcoming,” said the judges.
Highly commended for its “integrity and creativity”: Rosa’s Thai Café, London (operated by Rosa’s London Limited, designed by Gundry And Duckers/Buro Creative).
Best Designed Multiple Restaurant winner:
Vapiano with sites in Austria and Germany (operated by Vapiano Franchising International GmbH, designed by Matthew Thun, Milan) – singled out by the judges as a brand that “works anywhere in the world”, they praised its “integrity of concept, and application to site”.
Highly commended for its “strength of brand”: Chilango, London (operated by Chilango, designed by I-AM Associates).
Best Designed Casual Dining Pub winner:
No 11 Pimlico Road, London (operated by Darwin & Wallace, designed by Buro Creative/Fusion DNA) – “Classy, fresh and considered” said the judges, they also praised its “careful selection of simple but classic fittings”.
Highly commended for its “excellent architecture”: Hall & Woodhouse, Portishead, Somerset (operated by Hall & Woodhouse Ltd, designed by Mackenzie Wheeler).