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The Best Northern Operators

In Association with @nrbtop50


Is delighted to support the NRB Top 50 Specialist lawyers to the licensed trade ‡Licensing ‡Corporate ‡Commercial ‡Employment ‡Commercial Property ‡Intellectual Property ‡Tax For more information contact Anthony Lyons on +44 (0)161 832 3434 or email

The Best Northern Operators

WELCOME Welcome to the third NRB Top 50, the prestigious and much anticipated list of the most important and influential individuals within the Northern hospitality industry. This year improving economic conditions have seen ambition and innovation come to the fore, with a host of new launches from both established players and smaller entrepreneurial operators. Needless to say the judging was fiendishly difficult and so we are grateful to The Russell Partnership for their help in the process and in selecting our three special achievement winners. We are also delighted to have Kuits, the licensing solicitors, as our headline sponsors, and to welcome Salford City College whose students will be preparing and serving your canapés. To those included in this prestigious list I say congratulations, and to the judges and generous sponsors I say a heartfelt thank you for your time and support. Enjoy the reception, take the time to explore Northern Restaurant & Bar – the largest hospitality exhibition in the North – and we hope to see you all, after another successful year, in March 2015.

The law firm of choice 3 St Mary’s Parsonage, Manchester M3 2RD

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Thom Hetherington Managing Director Northern Restaurant and Bar


The Best Northern Operators


Paul Askew

Tim Bacon

Chef Patron The London Carriageworks & The Art School

Managing Director Living Ventures

In Association with Kuits Solicitors


Kuits Solicitors is the leading commercial law firm for the leisure and licensed trade sectors advising a wide range of operators throughout the UK on their licensing, commercial, employment, property and taxation issues. We are commercially focussed trusted advisors who will work with you to help grow your business.

In Partnership With The Russell Partnership

Sponsored by Salford City College

The Russell Partnership is a strategic consultancy specialising in Catering, Conferencing, Events and Leisure markets, to deliver bespoke strategies, market and customer insight, creative design solutions, operational implementation and commercially viable results. The Partnership’s 24 years’ experience as well as their innovative and agile approach have earned them global recognition and an impressive client portfolio.

Salford City College is one of the most successful colleges in the North West. We offer a variety of Hospitality & Culinary Arts qualifications, from full time vocational qualifications to part time short courses and apprenticeships. Working closely with industry leaders, we provide students with an excellent array of opportunities.

Supported by

Hosted by Northern Restaurant & Bar has been established for fourteen years and is the largest hospitality trade show in the North of England. Taking place at Manchester Central every Spring the exhibition has over 250 exhibitors, over fifty demos and tastings and has become the ‘must see’ event for over 6,000 operators from restaurants, bars, hotels and pubs across the North of England.

Paul is chairman of the Tourism Business Network and has helped push food tourism to the front of Liverpool’s bid to become a truly international destination. Paul is also chair of Liverpool’s Restaurant Association and has been the inspiration behind Merseyside’s thriving food and drink festivals as a founder stakeholder. He continues to be a director and co-owner of much loved Hope Street Hotel and The London Carriage Works but will become chef patron of the The Art School upon it’s opening later this year to once again raise the bar of Liverpool’s dining scene. In May 2013 he was made a fellow of The Royal Academy of Culinary Art and is now the chair for the North of England. He has been a National Committee member for the chefs AAA awards (Applied Ability Awards) since 2008 and is currently working on the International Festival for Business (IFB) as chair of the steering group for the week of food and how the IFB is catered for in 2014 (June & July).

Mohammed Aslam MBE

Owner, Aagrah Group of Restaurants Along with his brothers Sabir & Iqbal, Mohammed Aslam founded the Aagrah Group of Restaurants in1977. The group has expanded to the present day; now boasting 16 successful sites, a hotel and a banqueting and conference suite. The group is a major employer of over 400 employees. Aslam was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award at the ABDN Dinner 2010. He was awarded an MBE for his services to the Hospitality Industry in the New Year’s Honour List in 2010 and was named Best Ethnic Chef by his industry peers at the Craft Guild of Chefs in 2009. More recently he was presented with a Special Recognition Award by David Cameron at the 2013 British Curry Awards.

Jeremy Roberts Commercial Director Living Ventures

SPECIAL ACHIEVEMENT AWARD Serial entrepreneur and former actor Tim Bacon came over to England from Australia in 1987 looking to travel the word, make a fortune and return home to a heroic welcome from family and friends after a couple of years … they are still waiting. Jeremy started his career washing dishes in his Dad’s hotel and some say peaked too early! Moving away from the corporate world of large hotel companies to the less corporate world of small hotel companies he built and opened a new hotel in Lancashire and successfully ran a large nightclub as well as two hotels and then he met Tim… The rest is history and the Living Ventures Group today employs 1300 like minded individuals through 33 units and 7 different brands, Gusto, Blackhouse, The Alchemist, Australasia, The New World Trading Company, Artisan and most recently Manchester House. In 2013 alone the accolades awarded include The Manchester Talk Awards, Best Entrepreneur, Tim Bacon; The National Restaurant Awards, One to Watch, Manchester House; ALMR Awards, Bacchus Award, The Alchemist, Leeds; The Publican Awards, Best New Site, The Oast House; The Sunday Times Top 100, 9th Best Companies to Work For Award, Living Ventures and Downtown Manchester in Business Awards, Best Business of the Year, Living Ventures Restaurants.


The Best Northern Operators

Craig Bancroft

John Benson-Smith

Ken Buckley

Marie Carter

Joint MD Northcote Manor

Consultant Executive Chef Manchester City Football Club

Managing Director Bravo Inns Ltd

Owner Beautiful Drinks

John Benson-Smith, or JBS as he is known in the industry, is one of Britain’s leading chefs, restaurateurs and business men. This larger than life character held the title Northern Chef of the Year and was a former regular judge on BBC TV’s Masterchef. Based in Manchester, he has acted as Consultant Executive Chef to Manchester City Football Club working with the Lindley Group and Fabulous Fan Fayre the new Jamie Oliver/ Legends Dallas Cowboys Catering Company to design, specify and project manage in 2013 the installation of fifty five food and beer public concession kiosks, six hospitality kitchens and one central production kitchen. He has reinvigorated the hospitality offering with Manchester City Football Club leading to them to win the Best Football Club Hospitality Award at the Football Business Awards in London.

Ken is a pub industry ‘lifer’ having spent 35 years in the industry ending as a Director with Greenalls Group Plc. Bravo Inns was formed in 2007 and has 27 pubs and continues to expand at approximately seven acquisitions per year.

Nigel Haworth Chef Patron Northcote Manor

Craig took up the challenge of making Northcote Manor one of the most reputable hotel restaurants in the North West and was joined by Nigel Haworth. The combination of improved service and quality wine list helped them gain the restaurant’s Michelin star in 1996. Ribble Valley Inns is the latest addition to the Northcote Group with four dining pubs. In 1984 Nigel began as Head Chef at Northcote Manor and in 1989 became joint Managing Director. Nigel was awarded a Michelin Star in 1996 successfully retained to this day. Accolades include the Visit England Gold Award 2012/2013 and the Visit England Breakfast Award 2012/2013, and 2014 will once again see the return of Obsession, Northcote’s annual homage to the finest food and wine, firmly established as one of Europe’s premier gastronomic events.

Tim Bilton Chef Patron The Spiced Pear

Mark Cain Director Velvet Central

Mark Cain is the Director of Velvet Restaurant and Velvet Hotel on Canal Street Manchester. With the hotel recently ranked #1 in120 hotels in Manchester by Trip Advisor and the restaurant voted in the top 100 best restaurants in the UK by Top Table dinners the Velvet family continues to go from strength to strength with new addition Velvet Central also opening in the heart of Manchester’s city centre.

Beau Myers Owner Beautiful Drinks

Those who know Beau well will not be surprised to hear he asked for his biog to simply, if cryptically, read “DTF”. Along with partner Marie Carter he is the radical and creative brain behind Manchester institutions Keko Moku, Home Sweet Home, Luck, Lust, Liquor and Burn and the ‘burgers and booze’ madness of Almost Famous. The latter operation has become a flagship brand, with a second site flourishing in Liverpool and the original Manchester restaurant transferring to an enormous new space in the Great Northern development. 2014 will see a further ramping up of operations.

Morgan Davies Founder / Joint CEO Barburrito

Tim has always shown an unstoppable passion for Yorkshire food, drink and hospitality. In 2008, he transformed The Butchers Arms, Hepworth from a failing business into a multi award winning dining pub, with provenance at its heart. Tim even managed to fit in two series of the BBC’s Great British Menu. In 2013, he opened his first independent venue, The Spiced Pear Hepworth, showcasing a 3-in-1 restaurant, cocktail bar and tearoom – securing a ‘Best Afternoon Tea’ (Deliciouslyorkshire Awards) for his bespoke teas, within six months of opening. Work is currently underway to create four boutique bedrooms and Tim continues to forge links with local schools, colleges and his valued suppliers.

Davies co-founded Barburrito, the UK’s first burrito bar, with business partner Paul Kilpatrick in 2005. Having expanded to six sites across the north-west, and one in the capital they continue the company’s mission to be the most loved burrito brand on the planet with another 2/3 sites planned for 2014 including another in London. The UK burrito sector is taking off and, with a passion for great value, healthy food, excellent service and cool restaurants, Barburrito is well placed to lead the way.


The Best Northern Operators

Carlo Distefano

Cleo Farman

Jobe Ferguson

David Fox

Chairman San Carlo Group (on the left)

Owner Odd Bar

Director Black Dog

Owner Tampopo

Ross Mckenzie

Nick Jeffrey

Director Black Dog

Owner Tampopo

Marcello Distefano Managing Director San Carlo Group

This multi-award winning, family-owned and run restaurant group started in 1992 when Carlo Distefano opened his first San Carlo restaurant in Birmingham. Since then, the reputation and presence of San Carlo has grown and now boasts high profile, multi-award winning San Carlo, Cicchetti, (Cicchetti Piccadilly, London winner “Italian Restaurant Gold Award” at national PAPA Awards 2013), Signor Sassi and Fumo restaurants in Manchester, Bristol, Leeds, Roundhay, Leicester, Liverpool and London. The company’s expansion has gained momentum in the last few years with Cicchetti and openings including San Carlo Fiorentina, Hale, San Carlo Bottega and La Dolce Farmacia, Manchester. Internationally There are currently three Signor Sassi restaurants in the Middle East and one in Bangkok. Quite simply a Manchester success story exported around the world.

Mal Evans Owner MOJO

Legendary bar operator Mal Evans; celebrating over 25 years in the industry with the MOJO bars holding the prestigious CLASS Awards Best of the Best and Best Good Time Awards and announcing MOJO Eats. RadioMOJO also gathers momentum, attracting worldwide listeners as well as local requests for partnerships; and an expanding family – this is a genuinely exciting time for one of the nicest men in the industry.

Cleo set up Odd Bar 7 years ago and has since completed the trilogy with the successful Odder & Oddest bars situated on Oxford Road and in Chorlton. The original Odd Bar has now extended into a larger two floor venue, along with a complete refurbishment of Odder Bar on Oxford Road which now boasts the thriving club ‘The Function Room’ upstairs. Cleo opened The ever so Parisien Blue Pig last year to widespread critical acclaim.

Ged Feltham Managing Director Leelex

Ged Feltham, founder/owner of Leelex Ltd, was one of the first to blaze the trail for the independent bar scene in Leeds, opening up the now legendary Oporto 16 years ago. This was followed by Jake’s Bar, Neon Cactus, Hummingbird Kitchen and Bar, all in Leeds, and Portobello Star in London. The recent launch of Portobello Road No.171 Gin has expanded the portfolio and the opening of Cielo secures Ged’s place as one of the most innovative food and drink entrepreneurs in the UK.

Together Jobe & Ross have ensured the Black Dog Ballroom brand has become a main stay of the Northern Quarter since opening. The New York Style speakeasy, diner and pool room has offered a new experience for people wanting a night out. The Liars Club– a Tiki Dive Bar and Caribbean Rum Shop near the busy Spinningfields, has been a hit from day one and the Dog Bowl city centre bowling concept takes the leisure offering to the next step in addition to the every popular Underdog and the current redevelopment of a popular café site in Manchester’s NQ. In addition Jobe also operates the Northern Quarter Restaurant and Bar recommended in the Michelin Guide to Great Britain and Ireland 4 Years Running and the Waitrose Good Food Guide 2013 & 2014 and Harden’s Guide 2013.

Nick Jeffrey is the co-founder and co-CEO of Tampopo Limited. After six years at Shell he attended INSEAD Business School to gain an MBA, following which he launched Tampopo in Manchester in 1997 with his university friend David Fox. Nick was originally inspired by his back-packing travels around East Asia in his younger days, and continues to make regular trips to the region to seek out its best street-food and signature dishes. He has also attended several cooking schools in East Asia to help him in his quest to craft the very best versions of those dishes. There are five Tampopo units, with three in Manchester, one each in Bristol and Reading, and a new brand variation in London called “East Street” looking to open more venues within the M25.

Kevin Georgel Duncan Fisher Owner The Apartment Group

Based in Newcastle, this rapidly expanding group employs over 500 people and now has 11 venues in its varied portfolio, including an award winning restaurant, city centre bars and clubs, a neighbourhood bar, and boutique hotel. Recent openings include the impressive Newton Hall hotel and House of Smith club and members lounge. The 12th venue ‘Liberty Brown’ opened in July 2013.

Chief Executive Officer Admiral Taverns

Kevin is responsible for the operations and commercial teams at Admiral Taverns, and as such is the driving force behind a raft of operational developments and initiatives, and the group’s stated aim of becoming widely recognised as the UK’s best operator of tenanted community pubs. Having started his working life in the armed forces, Kevin held senior management roles in a number of industry-related companies including brewer Molson Coors, prior to Admiral. He is a former operations director of leased pub company Punch Taverns.


The Best Northern Operators

Alex Hannah

James Hitchen

William Lees Jones

Gary Manning

Director Lucha Libre

Managing Director Neighbourhood/ Southern 11

Managing Director J W Lees

Chef Patron 60 Hope St

Lucha Libre is the brainchild of Alex Hannah and fellow Director Dave Roche, who have spent the past two years transforming a former derelict building in the heart of Liverpool, into a restaurant inspired by the food and culture found on the streets of Jalisco in Mexico. Lucha Libre Liverpool opened in April 2012 swiftly followed by Lucha Libre Manchester at the Great Northern Warehouse in November 2013. He is looking to launch another successful concept in 2014.

Jonny Heyes Owner Port Street Beer House

Common, set up in 2004, followed later by Port Street Beer House and The Beagle have blazed a trail for the now buoyant craft beer scene in the North West. In 2011 Heyes launched Indy Man Beer Con, a progressive take on the stuffy old beer festival held in the breathtaking surroundings of Victoria Baths, IMBC has received national acclaim and continues to go from strength to strength. Recent accolades include Port Street Beer House – MFDF ‘Pub of the Year’ 2012 as well as being named in Guardian’s ‘Top 10 places in UK for craft beer’ and Common – MFDF ‘Pub of the Year’ 2010.

Karina Hitchen Director Neighbourhood/ Southern 11 Restaurant entrepreneurs James and Karina Hitchen have proved that the number 13 is not unlucky for them, as 2013 has seen their two establishments Southern Eleven and Neighbourhood go from strength to strength. Southern Eleven and Neighbourhood Restaurant & Bar are currently on target to reach £5 million in annual gross sales trading this year and they are keen to build on their American inspired concepts with the launch of additional sites in the City.

Terry Laybourne

William Lees-Jones is Managing Director of JW Lees, owners of JW Lees Brewery, JW Lees Pubs, The Alderley Edge Hotel, The Trearddur Bay Hotel and Willoughby’s Wine Merchants. JW Lees is a sixth-generation family business which employs just over 1,100 people,150 at the brewery and site in Middleton Junction in North Manchester and 950+ in its 35 managed pubs, as well as letting a further 130 tied pubs to selfemployed tenants. Recent accolades include winning the Manchester Evening News “Business of the Year 2013 “ Category: Company with a turnover between £50m & £100m, which include recent openings duttons Chester and Manchester.

Mike Magrane General Manager Q Hotels

Colin Manning Managing Partner 60 Hope St

Gary and Colin’s family owned and run restaurant group is based around Liverpool’s iconic Hope St and includes the flagship 60 Hope Street, which prides itself on its cuisine and service, as well as Asian fusion restaurant Host and Quarter restaurant and deli kitchen. After attending catering college in Liverpool and training as a chef in restaurants in London and Australia, Gary Manning returned to his hometown in 1997 with the hope of achieving his dream of opening a restaurant before he reached his 30th birthday. His brother Colin had also honed his hospitality skills, in front-of-house roles and as a relations manager for British Airways.


Gary McClarnan Chef Patron 21 Hospitality Group Since opening his first restaurant in Newcastle in 1988 and winning a Michelin star three years later, chef and restaurateur Terry Laybourne has become a North East institution and one of the UK’s most highly regarded chefs. His 21 Hospitality Group now operates five restaurants including his flagship Café 21. He received an MBE for his contribution to the restaurant industry and tourism and recently announced he will be working as consultant chef at landmark venue Sage Gateshead with Lindley Heritage as part of their £12.5 million catering contract.

The driving force behind the success of the iconic Midland hotel, Mike is responsible for it’s strategic development and has been since he arrived in Manchester in 2004 to oversee the hotel’s £15 million refurbishment. The hotel has continued to grow and develop under his leadership and 2013 saw the refurbishment and re-branding of its two restaurants alongside Michelin starred chef, Simon Rogan, to great acclaim. In addition to The Midland, Mike sits on the QHotels Executive Committee and also holds a Regional General Manager role for the north, mentoring and overseeing the development of the teams at three other QHotels properties: The Queens in Leeds, Crewe Hall, Cheshire and Park Royal, Warrington.

Co Owner / Managing Director Teacup Kitchen & Teacup Bakery Gary McClarnan is currently MD of Sparklestreet Projects, a special projects company delivering event, experiential and strategic marketing services for corporate brands and music clients. McClarnen has also launched, Teacup Kitchen, Bonbon Chocolate Boutique, Kahlua Coffee House and Proper Tea at Manchester Cathedral all successful and thriving operations. In 2014, Teacup Bakery will come to life at Manchester Town Hall, Kahlua Coffee House will appear at London Coffee Festival and two more projects are in the pipeline.


The Best Northern Operators

James Mackenzie

Dave Mooney

James Douglas

Andrew Nutter

Chef Patron Pipe and Glass

Owner New Moon Pub Company

Co Owner / Director Reds True Barbecue

Chef Patron Nutters

Paul Newman

Scott Munro

Owner New Moon Pub Company

Co Owner / Director Reds True Barbeque

Experience, a shared vision and an exciting marketing plan have all contributed to the success of The New Moon Pub Company, established by Paul Newman and David Mooney. The Lord Binning, The Old Sessions House, The Hanging Gate Inn and The Montgomery will be joined by new venture Beef & Pudding in Manchester in April 2014.

James Douglas and Scott Munro are co-founders of Red’s True Barbecue in Leeds. Reds is an authentic American smokehouse serving a huge range of meats cooked “low n slow” using hickory and fruit woods in custom made American smokers imported from the US with ambitious plans to have around 15 to 18 Red’s True Barbecue restaurants open in total over the next five years.

James Mackenzie is chef and owner of The Pipe and Glass Inn at South Dalton near Beverley – East Yorkshire’s first Michelin-starred restaurant. The Pipe and Glass is the Good Food Guide’s County Dining Pub of the Year for 2014, and was recently placed at number 4 in the Morning Advertiser/Budweiser Budvar Top 50 Gastropub Awards. In 2013 it won the Pub and Bar Award in the prestigious Cateys, the ‘Oscars’ of the restaurant industry and was also the Michelin Dining Pub of the Year 2012. James’ first book, On the Menu, won Best First UK Cookbook in the international Gourmand World Cookbook Awards for 2013.

Stephen Miles General Manager Radisson Blu Edwardian Manchester Stephen Miles is the General Manager of the multi award winning Radisson Blu Edwardian Free Trade Hall, Manchester. He holds the role of Chair of the Manchester Hoteliers Association, and NW Regional Hoteliers Association. He is the founder of The Hotel Future Foundation which will be a concept of Hospitality Academies across the country, the first of which is currently being constructed in Greater Manchester. His previous experience includes THF and Hilton hotels prior to joining Edwardian Group London where he has been a member of the senior management team for 25 years. He also sits on the boards of Hospitality Action and Visit Manchester.

With a glittering CV including an apprenticeship with Raymond Blanc and a stint as Commis Chef to Marco Pierre White and Chef Patron of the Belle Epoque in Knutsford David is recognisable as a media star, with many appearances on television and radio. Notably, he was the resident chef on the region’s Granada Tonight programme, as well as hosting the ‘Food Hunter’. Paul Newman is a veteran front-of-house marketeer and operator with over 25 years’ experience in the hospitality, fine dining and wine industries. Paul was a founder member and shareholder in successful concern Living Ventures Ltd, renowned for setting up The Living Room restaurants and bars, Gusto Restaurants and The Blackhouse Grills. In 2009 he was named as one of the most influential people in the UK hospitality industry at the Theme Magazine awards.

Nutters Restaurant has been applauded by critics and guests and Andrew has won the Lancashire Chef of the Year, the Young Mancunian Business Man of the year, Outstanding Achievement Award at the Manchester Food and Drink festival 2008, while the Times voted Nutters as one of the top ten celebrity chef restaurants in the UK. Andrew has reached the forefront of modern British Cuisine in the UK and also abroad, linked mainly to South Africa where he regularly demonstrates, and also America, New Zealand and Australia where his TV shows are broadcast. His first book Utter Nutter globally sold out and his second book Nuts about Food saw it rank in the top 25 of must have Cookbooks by the Independent Newspaper.

Eamonn O’Loughlin Jocelyn Neve MD The Seafood Pub Company

The Seafood Pub Company was founded by Joycelyn Neve in 2010, with a vision to deliver the best quality ingredients but in a relaxed and accessible way. Part of the Neve family with roots in the fishing industry going back generations Joycelyn studied geography at Liverpool University with plans to become a commodity analyst advising investment companies. But having grown up around catering the food industry was something which couldn’t be walked away from. Working for a London events company, followed by six months studying the coastal food industry in South America, her passion for the highest quality food backed by distinctive service excellence led her to become managing director of the ‘Seafood Pub Company’ and steering the direction of the seafood-led gastro pubs.

Owner Eclectic Hotels

As owner of Eclectic Hotels, Eamonn oversees the running of three uniquely styled and furnished hotels. Great John Street, Manchester, Didsbury House and Eleven Didsbury Park. 2014 will also see a new site, the second in Manchester city centre with the planned Booth Street Hotel having restaurant and conference facilities, and a rooftop extension that will include a spa.


The Best Northern Operators

Si Ord

Steve Pilling

Simon Rimmer

Simon Rogan

Owner Sandinista

Director Damson Group

Chef Patron Greens/Flying Pig and Lobster

Chef Patron L’Enclume & The French

Simon Rimmer became known for the innovative vegetarian food of his Manchester restaurant Greens, which opened in 1990 and later Earle, a modern brasserie in Cheshire. He has also appeared on BBC 2’s Something For The Weekend, BBC2’s Great British Menu, Celebrity Mastermind, Grub’s Up, Recipe for Success, BBC1’s This Little Farmer, Saturday Kitchen, Richard and Judy on Channel 4, Cooking the Books and Breaking into Tesco for Channel 5. He’s also written 4 books – The Accidental Vegetarian, Rebel Cook and Lazy Brunch (with Tim Lovejoy) and his latest book Seasoned Vegetarian. Recently Rimmer has partnered with the founders of inventive Leisure in a new company Flying Pig & Lobster for their first acquisition in Woolton Village, Liverpool and has ambitious plans for 5 more sites over the next 5 years. Simon is also working with Doubletree Hilton in Liverpool on Laylas Brasserie.

Simon uses luxury ingredients, market produce, foodstuffs farmed on the premises of L’Enclume in Cartmel, with delicate flavours of flowers, herbs and other foraged items. This, coupled with a love for innovative and unusual technique, has informed his style – leading to dishes which look astonishing, play tricks on the senses and change constantly. L’Enclume’s Michelin star, TV and press coverage led Rogan to expand his empire with a move into Manchester’s Midland Hotel where he now has two restaurants, The French and Mr Cooper’s House and Garden, and in 2014 will open a restaurant in London’s Claridges. Recently accolades include L’Enclume being named No1 restaurant in the Observer Food Monthly Monthly Awards and the Good Food Guide.

Si Ord opened Sandinista Leeds in 2002, named after the Clash’s forth album and Nicaraguan revolutionary party the ‘Sandinistas’, everything about this small and enigmatic bar reflects Si’s non-conformist spirit and complex ethos. The success of Sandinista Leeds led Si to open its Manchester equivalent in 2011whilst his New Orleans inspired Speak Easy, Smokestack Leeds, has gone from strength to strength since its opening in 2007. The latest development to Si’s portfolio, Blind Tyger, opened just last October. Serving the globe’s finest pours, this dark and opulent drinking den is a little slice of London in Leeds’ ever-popular Northern Quarter.

Andrew Pern Chef Patron The Star at Harome

Andrew Pern’s name is synonymous with that of his pub, The Star Inn at Harome, consistently appearing on a host of awards lists, including a Michelin star held from 2002 to 2010 inclusive. The loyal following for Andrew’s highly seasonal and instinctively ‘local’ food has placed this picturesque North Yorkshire Moors village pub, with its boutique 9-bedroomed hotel, firmly on the destination location map. With two acclaimed books, ‘Black Pudding and Foie Gras’ and ‘Loose Birds and Game’, Andrew is also a regular contributor to a number of publications as well as a popular ‘performer’ at local food festivals. In 2011he found the time to take part in BBC2’s ‘Great British Menu’, and the ‘Hairy Bikers’. Autumn 2013 saw the opening of ‘The Star Inn The City’ in York, a Brasseriestyle all-day dining concept on the banks of the River Ouse.

Simon Stanley Director Damson Group

Together as Damson Group Steve Pilling and Simon Stanley have opened independent fine dining restaurants – Damson Heaton Moor, Damson MediaCityUK, The Red Lion High Lane and their latest addition – Media City’s proper pub, The Dockyard. Simon Stanley trained at Tameside College, and later went on to work in some of the country’s most esteemed kitchens with chefs including Marco Pierre White, at The Criterion and The Belvedere and Richard Neat at Neats London after a brief spell with Pierre Koffman at La Tante Claire. After four years at Le Petit Blanc, he went on to head up the kitchens at the Sam’s and Tom’s Chop Houses – two of the city’s most iconic dining and drinking establishments. The ventures have so far won a string of awards from Manchester Food and Drink Festival, Cheshire Life, The Independent and The Observer.

Jonathan Slater Peter Robinson Chairman Frederic Robinson

Oliver Robinson Commercial Director Frederic Robinson

Oliver heads up the brewing, packaging brands and sales areas at this Family run business that celebrated its 175th year last September. Having won the BBPA Beer Company of the Year in 2013 Robinsons hit the headlines last year with its beer brand Trooper in association with rock band Iron Maiden. It has invested in a £6m brewhouse and £2m Visitor Centre offering Apprenticeships and Cellar Training. Peter joined the business as part of the 5th generation in the 1950s and continued to grow the company.

Managing Director The Chester Grosvenor

Managing Director Jonathan Slater has been at the helm of The Chester Grosvenor since 1st August 1983. During the late 1980’s he personally supervised every aspect of a multi million pound refurbishment which transformed the handsome Grade II listed building and the creation of two award winning restaurants, La Brasserie and Arkle – since renamed Simon Radley at The Chester Grosvenor. More recently Jonathan took on the ambitious Kitchen Project for a well received reconfiguration of La Brasserie. A founder director of Small Luxury Hotels of the World Jonathan recently ended his third term as chairman. He is also a director of Marketing Cheshire. Jonathan received the prestigious Catey Award as “Manager of the Year” in July 2002 and joined the elite ranks of the Master Innholders in 2003. He was presented with the Outstanding Achievement Award at the Chester Food and Drink Festival in 2010.


The Best Northern Operators

Richard Smith

Steven Walker

Roger Ward

Joel Wilkinson

Chef Patron Relax, Eat & Drink

CEO Individual Restaurant Company

Owner The Victorian Chop House Company

Owner Trof

Richard William Smith is a classically trained chef. After working his way around the states, Smithy returned home to Yorkshire to set up in his hometown of Sheffield a small dining venue called Smiths. Now with a portfolio of eight food led businesses he continues to look at new and exciting opportunities and his relationship with the iconic craft brewer Thornbridge from Derbyshire’s Peak District continues to flourish and develop. His second cookery book craft union – all about food and beer matching has been a great success and he is about to launch his own consultancy firm specialising and developing new business opportunities within the hospitality industry from new start ups to existing & established operators. After cooking for twenty years then spending the last ten years building his small restaurant group Richard has now decided to return to the kitchen and stoves full time.

Steven Walker has spent the last 20 years in food manufacturing, food retailing and restaurants. He built the Roberts Food Group into one of the UK’s leading food businesses and currently his private businesses include the Individual Restaurant Company, 32 premium restaurants including The Restaurant Bar & Grill, Piccolino, Bank Restaurant & Bar and Zinc. Through constant innovation, commitment and a keen eye to detail Steven has successfully maintained Individual Restaurant Company as a market leader with recent projects including the addition of the terrace to Manchester’s RBG and expansion plans for Piccolino.

Roger is owner of Manchester’s Victorian Chop House Company. With a background in advertising, in 2000 Roger decided to stop developing other peoples’ brands and create his own. The Victorian Chop House Company was born and now includes Sam’s Chop House in Manchester and Leeds and Mr Thomas’s Chop House Manchester, as well as the recently launched Albert Square Chop House, which includes rooms and event spaces. Recent accolades include the Award of Excellence from the influential American magazine, Wine Spectator.

Wilkinson has opened in Manchester six very individual venues including Trof, Deaf Institute, Gorilla and most recently the ambitious revitalisation of Albert Hall, the gargantuan, former Methodist meeting hall on Peter Street, into a stunning purpose built music hall set to become one of the most atmospheric music and events venues in the UK.

Marc Wilkinson

Nick Taplin

With more than 25 years’ in Hospitality, Nick’s vast experience in the sector incorporates Nightclubs, 5 Star Hotels, Branded High Street Bars, Branded Hotel Operations, Health Clubs and Spas. As Managing Director of Sanguine Hospitality, Nick has significant input into acquisitions and development schemes and is actively involved in leading and directing a number of Sanguine’ s current and future developments. Nick’s responsibilities have also incorporated overseeing operational activities across the portfolio as well as concluding a deal involving branding of several restaurants in conjunction with Marco Pierre White and Frankie Dettori.

Managing Director Arc Inspirations

Jonathan Ward Director Company Value Ltd

Managing Director Sanguine Hospitality

Martin Wolstencroft

Chef Patron Restaurant Fraiche

SPECIAL ACHIEVEMENT AWARD Jon Ward joined the House of Adventure Group as a Director in January 2013 and the initial acquisition was Freeminer Brewery situated in the Forest of Dean Gloucestershire, an independent craft brewery for the past 25 years and a 40 barrel plant. Cord Bar which is situated in the Northern Quarter was the next acquisition followed quickly by Simple Bar and Kitchen. January this year saw the latest addition to the family which is Fyg Deli and Wine Bar. The Group has the intention to expand further over the next few years looking at new and exciting opportunities.

Recently named sixth best restaurant in the UK in The Sunday Times Food List, winner of three AA rosettes and the first Michelin star on Merseyside, Fraiche (Marc Wilkinson’s restaurant near Birkenhead) has a footprint far larger than the diminutive 16-cover space that it occupies. Wilkinson opened Fraiche in 2004 and today – as the only chef in his kitchen – he is as hard-working as any restaurateur alive. Wilkinson’s food has been described as modern French but – as you might expect from a chef who cites Ferran Adrià of El Bulli fusion magician Pierre Gagnaire and flavour scientist Hervé as major influences – he is unafraid to experiment. Wilkinson says that when designing his dishes down to the bread served before the meal, he puts them through taste-test after taste-test, exhausting every possibility for improving each before moving ahead. Restaurant Fraiche is testament to what can be achieved by one man’s relentless and single-minded pursuit of brilliance and Marc is a shining star for the North of England.

Martin Wolstencroft is a serial entrepreneur with some of West Yorkshire’s favourite bars serving food within the Arc group, across Leeds and Harrogate. Martin also heads up the ‘hospitality and catering workstream’ for Lighthouse, a school specialising in supporting young people aged 11 to 19 with an autistic spectrum condition (ASC) or related communication disorder. In July 2013, Arc Inspirations moved further afield to York to open a second Banyan Bar & Kitchen and most recently in August 2013 The Pit opened on Merrion Street in Leeds city centre. In November 2013, following the massive success of The Pit in Leeds city center, the Hub was rebranded as the second Pit. There are plans for two further ventures in 2014.


The Best Northern Operators

James Wrigley MD Fluid Bars

James Wrigley is MD of Fluid Bars – the Northwest’s leading mobile bar providers, cocktail consultancy and pop up bar operators. Starting out alone, James has built and led a team that has recently quadrupled its annual turnover, and has secured partnerships with Allied London and Peel Holdings to create some of the region’s most exciting seasonal and pop up bar concepts. James’ portfolio includes Dock Bar and Lounge at MediaCityUK, The Lawn Club (opening at Spinningfields this April), as well as a roster of high profile corporate and private clients on the events side of the business including Diageo and Manchester Airport.

Stewart Yip Owner Red Chilli

Stewart is a Manchester entrepreneur whose portfolio of businesses includes the Chi Yip supermarkets. He also owns the Ocean Treasure restaurant Manchester 235 casino, Red Chilli restaurant chain (darling of the food critics) and K2, and a three floor karaoke bar in Manchester’s Chinatown. Yip is also the President of ‘The Federation of Chinese Associations of Manchester’(FCAM).

NRB Top 50 Awards are announced each year at the Northern Restaurant and Bar exhibition – the largest hospitality trade fair in the North of England. For sponsorship enquiries please call 01457 866 710 or email The entry for nominations for the 2015 awards will open late 2014. Please check the website or follow us for updates.


The NRB Top 50 takes place at the NRB exhibition every March and is organised by Holden Media.

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NRB Top50 Awards Booklet 2014  

NRB Top50 Awards Booklet 2014. Celebrating the best Northern hospitality operators.

NRB Top50 Awards Booklet 2014  

NRB Top50 Awards Booklet 2014. Celebrating the best Northern hospitality operators.