National recognition for Inverness pubs, MacGregor's Bar and Scotch & Rye, at SLTN Awards in Glasgow
Easier access to your trusted, local news. Have a look at our brand new digital subscription packages!
Inverness hospitality group Cru Holdings enjoyed a double at the 25th anniversary SLTN Awards in Glasgow.
Not only was it named independent multiple operator of the year (four to seven outlets), one of those outlets, Scotch & Rye on Queensgate, Inverness, collected the trophy for best craft beer of the year.
Also bringing an award back to Inverness city centre is MacGregor's Bar in Academy Street, which was named best independent bar of the year.
Fiddler’s in Drumnadrochit, was highly commended in the whisky bar of the year category, losing out to Seumas’ Bar at the Sligachan Hotel on Skye. Marty Salkauskas of The Lovat, Fort Augustus, was also highly commended in the barperson of the year category.
There was a further Highland link in entrepreneur of the year winner, Stefano Pieraccini of the Fife-based Rocca Group. Stefano is the son of Susan and the late Adrian Pieraccini, who previously owned the Rocpool brand in Inverness before relocating to St Andrews. Stefano, who began his hospitality career washing up in his family's hotels at the age of 14, now runs Seafood Ristorante in St Andrews and The Broughton and Rico’s in Edinburgh.
Cru Holdings success in the SLTN Awards came on the same evening as Murray Travel, the Inverness-based travel agency run by Cru managing director Scott Murray and his wife Sarah, won the rural entrepreneur award at the Scottish Highlands and Islands Rural Economy (SHIREs) Awards, held online.
Mr Murray said: "After what has been arguably the most challenging time to date in both of our businesses industry’s, it is an overwhelming honour to be recognised in such a big way, both by the Scottish Licenced Trade and by the SHIREs.
"We certainly didn’t set out to achieve what we have – it was a result of the entire team adapting to the many, many curve balls thrown our way, and letting our sense of doing what is right guide our journey from there. It was always all about survival, and trying to ensure that no one was left behind, and we were able to reopen with the same number of employees we locked down with. All while keeping true to our core this and values and ensuring our customers received the very best levels of service.
"Not only did we achieve this, but along the way it allowed us to explore new opportunities, as well as changing our organisation for the better. Through customer and staff feedback, we were able to identify where we could be better, and deliver better value to our teams and clients, and for me that is an absolute blessing.
"It has allowed us to come out of the last 18 months so much stronger, both as people, as a team and as a business, and being recognised for this is the icing on the cake."
Jo de Sylva, who runs MacGregor's Bar alongside her husband, musician and broadcaster Bruce MacGregor, commented: "We’re absolutely delighted to win this award in what has been an incredibly difficult year for hospitality. This is the third national award at our industries equivalent of the Oscars, and without doubt, this is the most important.
"One of the key ingredients to making us stand out was the online show we continue to produce each week. This has has been a revolutionary development in this industry and truly fits into our ethos of #morethanabar.
"We now have an online and a local community who believe in celebrating the very best in Scottish food, drink music and culture."
The SLTN awards were announced at a glittering ceremony at the Glasgow Hilton and hosted by comedian and author David Walliams.
An audience of 650 attended the event, which was organised by leading trade publication, the Scottish Licensed Trade News (SLTN).
SLTN editor Gillian McKenzie said: “The SLTN Awards is all about celebrating the very best of Scotland’s hospitality industry – and that was more important than ever this year, in what continues to be an incredibly tough time for hospitality businesses.
“Entrepreneurial spirit, innovation and resilience have always been at the heart of Scotland’s hospitality industry - and never was that more evident than during the pandemic. The way so many pivoted their businesses, provided a lifeline to communities, and adapted to ever-changing restrictions was nothing short of remarkable.
“Huge congratulations to all of our SLTN Award winners and highly commended finalists. Now, more than ever, they deserve enormous credit for maintaining the high standards our hospitality industry is known for.”