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2014 Winner: Red's True Barbecue
Founded just two years ago by a duo with no previous restaurant experience, casual dining brand Red's True Barbecue is the ultimate overnight success story.
With little more than an idea and a passion for American-style "low ‘n' slow" barbecuing, founders James Douglas and Scott Munro have grown a veritable institution from just one site, and now serve an average of 42,000 customers per month.
The first site was in Manchester. With 107 covers, the team managed to generate a turnover of £2.5m in their first year, which led to the opening of their second restaurant, a 184-cover venue in Leeds, in February 2014.
The group's expansion continues: two more northern sites are planned for the next 12 months.
And yet, this is no superficial start-up. With a menu that focuses on pork, beef, chicken and sausage, the cooking technique involves a methodical and much-considered process.
Beginning with a dry rub of spices and sauces, the meat is then smoked for up to 21 hours over a secret blend of hickory and fruitwoods, in custom-built smokers from Oklahoma.
The Sun newspaper and on Channel 4's Sunday Brunch programme.
South-African born Munro first developed his passion for barbecue thanks to his travels around the United States. Seeing a gap in the market, he teamed up with childhood friend and chef Clinton Britz, and together they road tripped around the US before venturing into the growing UK barbecue
It was Douglas, a Leeds-based former managing director of property agency Nest Lettings, who finally enabled the group to launch.
Having sold his agency to an international property company in 2012, he was introduced to Munro by a family friend, and suddenly found himself in a position to enter the restaurant business. Red's True Barbecue was born. Happily admitting to a "fanatical" approach, the group now describes itself as on a mission to convert all visitors into barbecue believers.
The company is careful to engage with its younger audience, and maintains over 50,000 followers across its Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages.
With similarities to that other breakthrough barbecue brand, Pitt Cue Co, it's clear that the group has captured not only the barbecue trend, but also the street food-loving zeitgeist.
The company's innovative approach to design also merits a mention. Dark and strident, the sites' design showcases heavy planks of wood, industrial-looking metal and lighting, open shelves full of crates and sacks, exposed brick and leather banquettes.
Among it all, bright neon signs offer homage to classic Americana, and ultimately summarise the group's unequivocal motto: 'Let There Be Meat!'
What the judges said "I chose them because of their commitment to research, the focus on the product, their fantastic results on their first opening and their second opening, and they have never had any experience in this sector before."
"A true newcomer who built an exceptionally viable and robust business in a short space of time."
Shortlisted The Truscott Arms
The Genuine Dining Co
Red's True Barbecue
The judges Richard Ball, chairman, Calcot Manor
Richard Beatty, director/owner, Polpo
Andrew Fairlie, chef-patron, Restaurant Andrew Fairlie
Jeff Galvin, chef-patron, Galvin Restaurants
Danny Pecorelli, managing director, Exclusive Hotels and Venues
David Pitchford, chef-patron, Read's Restaurant
Kevin Watson, managing director, Amadeus