News from ISSBA
Friday, 10 November 2023 15:44

How to continue to thrive in a changing market

ISSBA member, Prestige Bars, share some valuable advice on understanding your marketplace and being prepared to adapt to meet the changing needs of your customers

Prestige A larger bar for events etcPrestige Bars was formed in 2006 by Ian Dickson to offer a first-class bar service, using custom made modular bar units designed and made by local craftsmen to look like a ‘proper’ traditional bar, offering a wide range of high quality products, dispensed by well trained, uniformed staff without undue queues or waiting to be served.

The idea had developed from Ian’s experience at his daughter’s wedding the year before. The day had been perfect except for one thing – the bar was awful! They got off to a bad start when they were two hours late to open but went on to offer a poor choice of drinks, were understaffed meaning long queues and they ran out of beer by 9pm!

Ian was sure of two things. Firstly, customers deserved so much more for their special occasions and secondly, he knew he could do much better! He was correct and Prestige Bars quickly achieved an excellent reputation for reliable, high quality bar services.

In 2008, a couple that had been let down by their wedding caterer, asked if Prestige could add catering to their bar service. Still keeping the same focus on high quality, this was very successful and the company invested in hog roast machines, big-pan paellas, professional BBQs, a portable rotisserie machine and several catering ovens. Two chefs joined the business bringing with them years of experience in high quality hotels and the Army Officers’ Mess. They built a strong team, developing memorable and well-presented menus based around local meat and produce, all delivered with friendly and flexible service.

Fast forward just over a decade and the UK was faced with lockdowns during the Covid pandemic which was disastrous for the hospitality industry. Now more than ever, many businesses had to adapt and change the way they worked, pretty much overnight!

Ian and his team found themselves with lots of extra time on their hands so they took the opportunity to start experimenting with smoking produce until they had perfected subtle flavours of oak and mesquite. They continued using finest quality, locally sourced produce (from Suffolk wherever possible) and it was all prepared on-site by their own chef.

In August 2020 they launched The Smokehouse Kitchen, selling a variety of smoked meats, fish and cheeses, and an assortment of freshly baked goods from their unit in Ipswich. As well as individual items, they extended their offering to hampers and sharing boxes, and were able to deliver throughout the UK.

Food parcelISSBA members were treated to a fabulous selection of food for their unique Christmas event in 2020. With the aim of having a fun evening but within lockdown guidelines, members were able to collect their food and cocktail boxes from Ian and then join a Zoom event from home for chat, laughter and even a magic show!

Thankfully, Prestige Bars were eventually able to go back to providing bars and catering for events and have continued to evolve their selection to delight customers and their guests.

Menus now include big pan paellas with added ‘theatre’. The giant pans are placed in a position for all to see and cooked in front of guests who are welcome to have their photos taken and chat to the chefs.

They have also recently added a new tapas menu with a selection of delicious hot and cold tapas served to each table to share. Sticking with Spanish tradition, they serve the first two or three dishes together and then bring the rest out one at a time to make for a long, easy and relaxed experience.

If you’d like to find out more, whether it is for a small fine dining event, large party/wedding or corporate event, please visit and get in touch. Ian and his team will be happy to meet with you to help with ideas, planning and ultimately, providing an amazing experience for you and your guests.

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