George Kailis 2019 Winner

To be in the running for this prestigious award, a restaurateur must have demonstrated leadership in his or her business, for it is business leadership that this award celebrates. However, leadership is about proper staff policies and HR, properly structured training and development programs, good relationships with suppliers and stakeholders.

George Kailis has had a cracker year. His Shorehouse restaurant has gone from strength to strength, building its reputation along the way. Staff retention rates at Shorehouse and other Kailis venues suggest a business that takes its employees seriously.

In business terms, George Kailis’ biggest move in 2019 was the rejuvenation and re-opening of the Kailis family’s 90-year-old Fremantle Fishing Boat Harbour fish and chip shop in September. Kailis has re-cast the popular, 600-covers-a-day restaurant, now called Kailis Fish Café, into a modern, family style fish and chip shop with good cocktails, a stylish wine list and a list of dishes more at home in a restaurant than a harbourside fish and chip shop.

It’s still a go-to venue for families, tourists and budget-conscious seafood lovers, but its 21st century makeover has opened it up to a whole new audience of diners who like a negroni or a good wine with their crumbed prawns.

The Hospitality Operator Of The Year award celebrates leadership. George Kailis – against the odds of a depressed hospitality sector in 2019 – has given us a lesson in leadership, clever risk taking, and targeted business development.

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