Preston has become the butt of jokes around the world after residents voted the local Nando’s as the best restaurant in the city. To add insult to injury, a Wetherspoon-run pub was also named best bar.
The awards were given as part of the Preston Business Improvement District’s annual Smiles Better Awards, designed to bring attention to local businesses. The awarding of the two major prizes to multi-international companies did not escape the attention of online critics, who took to Twitter to voice their displeasure and label the awards “peak Preston.”
Local business owners were also less than impressed.
“It isn’t fair on local independents that they are in the same categories as national chains,” said Mark O’Rourke, who runs a tapas bar in the city. “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.”
Wetherspoons responded to the criticism on social media.
“The Twelve Tellers is a superb pub which is enjoyed by thousands of people in Preston each week,” said Wetherspoon spokesperson Eddie Gershon. “We are delighted that people voted it as their favourite pub In Preston. It is very much a local business, providing employment to many people and although it is part of Wetherspoon, it has its own identity and is very much a one-off pub in terms of design.”
“To clarify, businesses nominate themselves or other businesses,” the Preston Business Improvement District wrote on Twitter. “Entire list of nominees is put to public vote, finalists are the nominees with the most votes received, the winner is the one with the highest number of votes. We do not select the finalists or the winners.”
Preston has a history with fast food – n 1965, it was the first city in the UK to open a KFC.