Steven Smith: ‘You’re soon forgotten about in this industry’

By Amelie Maurice-Jones

- Last updated on GMT

Business boost: Awards motivate Freemasons team
Business boost: Awards motivate Freemasons team

Related tags Gastropub Food Estrella Damm National Restaurant Awards Lancashire Steven Smith

The chef-owner of the Freemasons at Wiswell, Clitheroe, said winning awards was essential for maintaining business, whilst also gave a “thumbs up” that the team were doing the right thing.

Steven Smith’s Lancashire-based pub has won a number of awards. It became Michelin-acclaimed in 2020 and, most recently, placed number 38 in the Estrella Damm 2021 National Restaurant Awards.

The chef said that placing number 38 was "fantastic". “It just opens up doors for people. There are so many establishments now, it's all these little things, just give that little tip that people go ‘Yeah, we will choose this’," he said.

He added: “Where you might be 20 to 25 people on a Wednesday lunch, now you're doing 40 to 50 people and that's what all these awards do.

“Obviously you have to keep repeating that year-on-year, because you’re soon forgotten about in this industry.”

Northern success

Smith said that the north doing  so “fantastically well” in recent awards led to national press coverage that greatly impacted his pub.

He said: “What you tend to see is some of the trades come and visit you to have a look at what you do as well.

“So you kind of get a double-bubble. And the fact that we've now got rooms as well, it just makes us more and more of a foodie destination site.

“And from a customer point of view, it just means you can do foodie trips, you're on that trail, and it just gives people that ‘Oh, so Well, here we go. They're all these guys are in the top 100, let’s get this booked'.

“The biggest thing is, is the fact that we're in a little village in Lancashire. To be mixing in with such esteemed names kind of speaks for itself.”

High aspirations

The chef-owner said that it was a “a joy to watch” his little-village pub mix in with “the best in the country” in the National Restaurant Awards list.

“It just gives a big thumbs up, and lets all the team know that what we're doing is all worthwhile, and what we're actually doing is the right thing,” he said.

He continued: “We always want to be better, and we always want to be the best, and recognised as one of the best.

“So we'll just keep going and keep going until we get there, and then when we get there, we'll try and do better again.

“I've made no bones about it. We want to be the best probably in the world.”

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