Independent restaurant owner wants to see ‘overhaul’ of Preston awards

Posted on - 11th April, 2019 - 12:00pm | Author - | Posted in - Business, Food & Drink, Preston City Centre, Preston News, Restaurants in Preston
Mark O'Rourke picking up his award at the Preston Smiles Better Awards
Mark O’Rourke picking up his award at the Preston Smiles Better Awards

Criticism has been levelled at a Preston city centre awards for how it puts independent businesses alongside national chains.


Owner of the Mark O’Rourke Group, who picked up Multiple Retailer of the Year at the Smiles Better Awards on Tuesday night has spoken out.

He runs We Don’t Give A Fork, Fino Tapas and Otter’s Pocket within the city centre.

Mark feels there needs to be a splitting out of the categories between independents and nationals.

Mark O’Rourke told Blog Preston: “It isn’t fair on local independents that they are in the same categories as national chains.

“Plugs and Taps for me is the best pub in Preston but have to compete with Twelve Tellers for pub of the year.

“If Nandos and Turtle Bay had their own category it would open the restaurant of the year awards up to the likes of Plau, Cocos, Theatre Street Bar and Grill and Fino Tapas and others.

“I think a takeaway of the year would be a good category, as would best hairdresser and barber as they all pay and contribute towards the Business Improvement District.

“It was a great evening though and I feel very honoured to have won an award.”

Read more: Butcher quits Preston Market Hall stall in dramatic fashion

What the organisers had to say

Preston Business Improvement District organise the annual awards to celebrate all those who make a contribution to the city centre – which is the only city or town centre in Lancashire to possess a Purple Flag quality indicator for nightlife.

Inside the Smiles Better Awards
Inside the Smiles Better Awards

Mark Whittle from Preston BID said: “The award’s programme features a number of categories applicable to independent businesses whilst some categories are mixed.

“Almost 50% of the 2019 winners are from independent businesses which only goes to demonstrate how well they can compete against the larger chains owing to their popularity.

“Finalists in the awards are solely determined by the public through a voting system. The awards are open to all businesses, irrespective of sector, operating in the city centre.

“As usual, we are overwhelmed with how the general public got behind the competition, which is the very reason the programme is staged, to provide a platform for the public to show their support for local businesses.

“We are always open to suggestions as to the categories and annually aim to improve and grow the programme.

“All businesses in attendance at the ceremony deserve recognition for their achievements and we offer our congratulations to all the finalist and to the winners.”

Read more: Preston to hold a monthly Makers Market down Fishergate

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