Independent Restaurateur of the Year

28 June 2000
Independent Restaurateur of the Year

Andrew Radford

Fulfilling the criteria to become the winner of the Independent Restaurateur of the Year award is no mean feat. But Andrew Radford, owner of the three-AA-rosette Atrium restaurant and the Blue Bar Café in Edinburgh, was deemed by judges to be someone who fitted the bill perfectly.

Radford easily met the first of the criteria - to demonstrate the ability to combine flair and innovation with good business acumen. He launched the first of his two successful restaurants, the Atrium, in Scotland's capital in 1993 with his wife Lisa.

Opening on a tight budget, Radford adopted a conservative approach to management with a concept that the critics labelled as having an "industrial chic minimalist design". Since then the Atrium has become one of Edinburgh's top places to eat.

The success of this business allowed Radford to take another risk and open the inexpensive Blue Bar Café, a former Caterer Adopted Business, one floor above the Atrium four years later.

Supporting Scotland's chefs

Being immersed in his Edinburgh businesses has not stopped Radford from encouraging youngsters to come into the industry - another part of the award's criteria which stated that the winner "should be making a valuable contribution to the restaurant industry either by lobbying on its behalf or developing links with colleagues, or by making a mark in other ways".

In the past, Radford has been involved with the American Express Young Chef/Young Waiter competition, seen by the industry as being one of the most influential for up-and-coming talent. Wearing his chef's hat, he was also a founder member of the Scottish Chefs Association, and wholeheartedly strives for recognition of Scottish chefs and cuisine.

To this end he was involved in setting up Natural Cooking of Scotland, aimed at promoting Scottish food, and also lobbied for the recognition of Scotland as a separate entity in international competitions. As the judges noted: "Radford puts an enormous amount back into the industry while at the same time he still runs a great business."

All these different facets of Radford's work, both in his restaurants and outside of them, gave him the edge in the final winning criterion - that is, setting standards to which others aspire. And this also means accepting responsibility when mistakes have been made - as Radford did when he moved his Blue Bar Café concept to Glasgow.

Disappointing trading figures during the seven months it was operating, led to the closure of the £400,000 eaterie in May this year. But this is not going to put Radford off from expanding what the judges called his "exciting and innovative restaurants". He already has plans to open more, with Dundee and Stirling earmarked as possible venues.

Judges

Neville Abraham, non-executive chairman, Groupe Chez Gérard

Stephen Moss MBE, vice-president, Restaurateurs Association of Great Britain

Annie Schwab, patron, Winteringham Fields, Winteringham, Humberside

Robin Hutson, managing director, the Alternative Hotel Company

Chris Hudson, executive chef, Ettington Park Hotel, Alderminster, Stratford-on-Avon

Pat McDonald, proprietor, the Epicurian, Pershore, Worcestershire

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