Restaurateur of the Year – Group

20 January 2005
Restaurateur of the Year – Group

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2004 Winner James Horler, La Tasca Restaurants
"The prize had to go to a man so devoted to his team that he opted out of having a head office in order to spend the savings on training" The judges of last year's Group Restaurateur of the Year Catey were in no doubt that the prize had to go to a man so devoted to his team that he opted out of having a head office in order to spend the savings on training. This was typical of James Horler, chief executive of La Tasca Restaurants. Taking last year's award, he became the latest winner in a line of industry leaders, including Robby Enthoven of Nando's, Ian Neill of Wagamama and Simon Woodroffe of Yo Sushi!. Horler completely changed the face of La Tasca's chain of Spanish tapas restaurants in his first three years, working with his team to increase the number of outlets across the country and doubling turnover from £22m to £40m. Developing the company is an ongoing mission for Horler, who wants to expand what is an already healthy portfolio of restaurants, with plans for both this country and abroad. It was his emphasis on inspiring and leading his team that impressed the judges, as well as his determination to challenge the conventional methods of group restaurant management. The judges noted his innovative managing partnership scheme, which gives managers a share of monthly profits.Horler's support of the brand and his drive to make it succeed was also highlighted by the panel. He has an impressive track record, starting his career with Granada Motorway Services before moving on to Frankie & Benny's as operations director in 1996. Under his leadership the brand grew dramatically, from a portfolio of five restaurants to 89. Horler rose to chief executive of La Tasca Restaurants after leading a venture capital-financed management buyout of the company with the Restaurant People Group, which he established after leaving the Restaurant Group in 2001. Like previous winners, Horler demonstrated the type of strength, leadership and initiative judges will be looking for in 2005. Winners have all been truly committed to both their companies and the industry, while understanding the value of their team. For example, judges praised 2003's winner, Andrew Guy of City Centre Restaurants, for being "a great operator", developing Garfunkel's from three airport outlets to the second-largest airport food and beverage operator in the UK. If you know someone with similar qualities, fill in the form on the back page of this brochure to give them a chance of being this year's winner. The closing date for nominations is Friday 4 February, and judging will take place on Thursday 21 April at London's Malmaison hotel in Charterhouse Square. Judges' criteria - The Restaurateur of the Year - Group award is open to individuals who have made their mark in running system-led companies operating branded and themed restaurants. - The judges will place particular emphasis on the demonstration of marketing skills and the consistent delivery of good service. Don't forget All nominations in this category MUST be accompanied by a supporting statement.
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