Edinburgh pub Footlights named best sports bar in Scotland for third time at Scottish Hospitality Awards 2023
An Edinburgh pub has been named the best sports bar in Scotland at the Scottish Hospitality Awards 2023 – the third time it has won the title.
Footlights Bar and Grill in Spittal Street previously won the best sports bar title in 2019 and 2022, completing the hat-trick at the ceremony last night, where other local hospitality venues also picked up awards. Midlothian pub the Laird and Dog was named the best bar in Scotland, The Scottish Owl Centre in Bathgate won the award for best day out, and the King’s Theatre was named the best theatre in the country.
The Scottish Hospitality Awards celebrate excellence in Scotland’s hospitality industry. The awards ceremony, now in its sixth year, celebrated the outstanding achievements of businesses and individuals who have made exceptional contributions to the hospitality sector in Scotland.
Lee Russell, owner of Footlights, is delighted the Spittal Street bar completed it’s hat-trick of best sports bar titles. He said: “I’m absolutely ecstatic, it was a fantastic night. To win this award for a third time is unbelievable. We really believed when we went along last night that there was no chance they would give it to us for a third time, but they did!
"It’s a great accolade, and confirmation that the work we do is being recognised. Our regular customers are really proud whenever we win anything or make improvements.”
Lee looked back on the improvements made to the pub since he got involved two decades ago. He said: "This November I will have been involved at Footlights for 20 years. When I first took over it was just a working man’s pub really, but we put in more TVs and had a focus on sport. Now we have recently increased from 10 to 16 screens with eight inputs.
"Customer choice is what we are all about. So now different booths can watch different live games at the same time, the customer has the choice. And I have spent £20,000 on the ladies toilet, it’s beautiful. Previously our customer split was probably 80 per cent men, but now I’d say it’s 60 per cent men and 40 per cent women. Plus our food sales have gone through the roof. So things are definitely going well for us.”
Adam Bolton, manager at the Laird and Dog in Lasswade, was delighted to see his pub pick up the title of best bar in Scotland. He said: “It’s fantastic to win, really good. It was a really good night, probably one of the best awards ceremonies I have been to. There were six of us that went, and we made the most of it. There will probably be a few hangovers today! The motto here is work hard and play hard.
“It’s good recognition and nice to be noticed. It’s a good team effort here, we have a great team of staff and great customers as well. It’s good recognition to entice more customers to come here and enjoy the nice atmosphere we have at the Laird and Dog.
"There was stiff competition, there’s some great businesses across all of the categories. So this award is testament to everybody that comes in here, it’s not just the staff, but the regulars as well. If they didn’t create that friendly atmosphere we would be here today.”
Other local hospitality businesses that received recognition at the awards ceremony held at the Double Tree Hilton Hotel in Glasgow on Tuesday were the Brig and Barrel in Dunbar which was named the best Pub/ Inn of the Year for the south east region, and the Royal Macintosh Hotel, also in Dunbar, which was named the best hotel in the south east region. Kingsway Guest House in Edinburgh was named best B&B in the south east, and The Scran and Scallie in Edinburgh won best restaurant and casual dining restaurant in the south east region.
A spokesperson for The Scottish Hospitality Awards 2023 said: “The Scottish Hospitality Awards 2023 has once again showcased the remarkable talent and exceptional standards within Scotland’s vibrant hospitality industry. The 2023 winners have consistently demonstrated excellence, innovation, and dedication in their respective categories, setting the benchmark for quality and service within the Scottish hospitality industry. We extend our warmest congratulations to all the winners and nominees and wish them continued success in their endeavours.”