General manager and company mixologist, Heritage Portfolio, Musselburgh Racecourse
Nominated by Mark Miller, executive director, Heritage Portfolio
Proudest career moment "Being asked to be the company mixologist, creating new drinks menus and catering concepts. It was great to be acknowledged for another talent."
Greatest inspiration "My team. I want my colleagues to share the pride I feel about supporting the racecourse in its growth and in improving the customer experience."
Ambition "In the short-term, it's developing the new dining concepts and strategies at the racecourse. Many opportunities arise in this industry, so I am not sure where I'll be in the long-term, but I'd like to take on more racecourses in the UK."
Craig Bonner's aptitude for science initially led him to take a foundation degree in forensic investigation, but his heart lay in hospitality.
In May 2013, following stints at McKeever Hotel Group, Tennent Caledonian Breweries and leisure operator G1 Group, Bonner joined Heritage Portfolio as hospitality and bar manager at Musselburgh Racecourse in East Lothian, Scotland. It was clear he was ready for more responsibility and, after just five months, he was promoted to general manager.
It was a good call. Bonner's professionalism won the confidence of an otherwise cautious client and in 2015 Heritage was awarded a seven-year partnership contract. Under his tenure, sales revenue has increased by 22% to more than £1m and the team has grown from two to 36 staff.
Bonner is passionate about encouraging young people into the industry, and he will soon be inviting groups of schoolchildren aged 15-16 to the racecourse to show them the opportunities offered by a hospitality career.
Indeed, Bonner's own experiences demonstrate that perfectly. Heritage has recently acknowledged his expertise as a mixologist and he has been busy devising cocktails for its contract at the British Airways i360 tourist attraction in Brighton.
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