Last year’s Scottish Bar and Pub Awards winners reflect

The blairs

Ahead of he Scottish Bar & Pub Awards 2020, which takes place on November 10th, we caught up with some of last year’s winers to find out what winning has done for their business and what it has meant for them personally.


Buzzworks won Cellar Trends, Multiple Operator of the Year, Mill House Stewarton won the BII Customer Service Award, and The Vic’s and The Vine won Kopparberg Best New Bar and the company’s owner/director broke down the significance of winning each award.

“We went off-brand with the refurbished Vic’s and the Vine and it took customers a little getting used to but they now love it and winning Kopparberg Best New Bar if the Year has further elevated our status in the local community as a vibrant and bar with a great atmosphere.

Many of them were used to Elliots and this award stimulated even more interest in our new proposition which prior to lockdown was running at full capacity at all times of the day. Now we are operating at 25 % capacity because of COVID, of course, and we have been seeing customers coming our earlier in the evening and we will be encouraging more of this in light of the 10 pm curfew by continuing to provide safe and welcoming hospitality, although closing earlier will have implications.

I am hugely passionate about customer service and we do have a lot of training programmes in place for our staff and I was and still am so phenomenally proud that The Mill House won the BII Customer Service award.

Training is an area we excel in and this month, for example, our managers are taking every member of the team and training them in the art of elevating the emotional connection between them and customers. It’s all about peripheral vision and ‘reading between the rocks’. This is the difference between service and hospitality because it’s the emotional connection and how you make people feel. We are not perfect and we don’t get it right all the time, but this is what we strive towards.

The Mill House is 25 per cent up on last year and this award has also allowed people to understand that we see ourselves as an operator in the local community with whom we like to build connections. Our guys are so proud to win this award and it means so much personally and it generates a lot of interest from customers too who see it displayed in the venue.

I can’t tell you how proud and emotional we were and still am to have won Cellar Trends Multiple Operator of the year. Kenny, Colin, and I see this as a phenomenal achievement and to be seen in this light is fantastic. We have been in this business for a long time now and we continually challenge ourselves to innovate whether that’s systems, how we work with people, menu offerings, etc. We continue to have huge respect for each other. Colin and I continued visiting venues during lockdown – we are always thinking of how we can make improvements and adapt, like what we are doing with our outside areas for example.”

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