Oliver Awards 2022: What a win would mean to the couple behind The Assembly bars in Garforth and Cross Gates

Entries are now open for the Oliver Awards 2022, celebrating the best of Leeds' food and drink scene.

By Abbey Maclure
Wednesday, 26th January 2022, 4:45 am

The couple behind the Assembly Bar, among the nominees, have praised the Yorkshire Evening Post for its "support from day one" as they eye up a win across three categories.

Stephanie and Matthew Cliffe opened their bar, bottle shop and café in a tiny unit in Cross Gates in 2018.

Following the success of their first venture, they opened the second Assembly Bar in Garforth last year.

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Stephanie and Matthew Cliffe are the founders of The Assembly bars in Cross Gates and Garforth

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They've been astounded by the support of the Leeds community and have built up a base of loyal customers, from students and young professionals to older people.

"Matt and I were so excited to learn that the awards were relaunching," Stephanie said.

"We've been familiar with the Oliver Awards for many years and it's great that we've got the opportunity to be part of it this year. It was an opportunity we couldn't miss.

Highlighting the best the city's food and drink scene has to offer, the Oliver Awards are the 13th hosted by the YEP

"The Yorkshire Evening Post has supported us from day one and it's great that the paper supports independent businesses.

"The last couple of years have been really challenging - not just for us, but across hospitality and other industries.

"It's another step for us in getting back to some sort of normality, celebrating getting through these challenging times and and hopefully celebrating our success, and also the success of our peers.

"We've all been in it together."

Highlighting the best the city's food and drink scene has to offer, the Oliver Awards are the 13th hosted by the YEP.

Industry experts will judge a range of categories, picking their shortlists and eventual winners which will be announced at a ceremony at Queens Hotel on March 28.

The Assembly is among the nominees for Best Bar and Best Customer Service, while the Garforth branch is up for Newcomer of the Year.

"It would be amazing to win," she added.

"I'm not a businesswoman and Matt isn't a businessman. When we set up the bar, we had that feeling of imposter syndrome, wondering if we were out of our depth.

"Getting recognised would be amazing and the confidence boost that myself and the team really need.

"We've been through some really challenging times, but we've pulled through, we're still here and still smiling.

"It would be amazing to be celebrated by such a prestigious publication."

Entries can be submitted by businesses at www.oliverawards.co.uk before February 16.

Full list of categories:

- Best Cafe/Deli

- Best Gastropub or Brewery

- Best Brunch

- Best Local Produce

- Best Bar

- Best Speciality

- Best Family Friendly

- Best Use of Outdoor Space - NEW

- Sustainability

- Best Customer Service

- Newcomer of the Year

- Best Takeaway Offering - NEW

- Best Fine Dining Experience

- Chef of the Year

- Outstanding Contribution

- Overall Restaurant of the Year (all restaurants awarded at ceremony eligible)