Two babies bring festive joy to first Business of the Year

Two babies bring festive joy to first Business of the Year

Baby Robyn is the icing on the Christmas cake at the end a brilliant 2018 for Southwark Business of the Year winner Melissa Harwood.

The young entrepreneur was pregnant with Robyn when her East Dulwich restaurant Spinach took the top prize at the first ever Southwark Business Excellence Awards Gala Dinner and Charity Ball last June. But her 2018 success story didn’t finish there. Robyn arrived in September to keep the young entrepreneur on her toes.

Now Melissa’s busy preparing for her second ‘baby’ – the opening of new restaurant, Baby Spinach, in January.

Melissa, 32, had only opened her first restaurant on Lordship Lane, 18 months before she picked up the Best Food and Hospitality Award at the glitzy business awards ceremony in the Hilton London Bankside on 21st June. But she was totally “stunned” when Spinach went on to win the night’s premier prize.

“It was so lovely to win and a huge surprise! I mean we were this tiny little business up against The Shard – we thought we had no chance. “Winning and the recognition it has given us was a real confidence boost.”

The Awards judges praised Spinach’s excellent customer service and “overwhelming sense of community spirit… they have strived to do the right thing, not just for themselves but for the people of Southwark” by employing local people and sourcing local ingredients and produce.

“We all worked so hard to get the business off the ground – it was really stressful and challenging at times,” said Melissa, pictured above with Manager Lucas Zanca, and Bar Superviser Max Nixon. “But we have the loveliest customers, who have supported us right from the start – I’ve made so many good friendships here. It’s a real community business.”

Melissa’s next venture, Baby Spinach will open in January at the new Streatham High Road studio being launched by Peckham-based Yogarise, and Element Fitness.

Despite being so busy with two new “babies” Melissa – pictured celebrating with her team at the Gala Dinner – says she will still find time to apply to the 2019 Southwark Business Excellence Awards. She commented: “I would encourage all businesses to enter – it’s so good for the community and a morale booster for staff.”

The 2019 Southwark Business Excellence Awards will launch at a prestigious reception in the Shangri-La Hotel At The Shard on Thursday, 24th January.

The free-to-enter Awards programme is sponsored by Awards Partners Southwark Chamber of Commerce and Southwark Council, as well as British Land, Delancey, Landsec, and UAL: London College of Communications. They are supported by Forepure Brewing Co. and Shangri-La Hotel, At The Shard.

For more information about sponsorship contact: Joanne Horton at or call 0208 726 7968.

Business people are now invited to register interest in attending the Invitation Only launch to hear full details of the 2019 awards categories. There will be inspirational speeches from business and political leaders, including Rajesh Agrawal, Deputy Mayor of London for Business.

*To register interest in attending the launch event, from 6pm to 8pm on Thursday, 24th January 2019, at Shangri-La Hotel, At The Shard, 32 London Bridge St, London SE1 9SG, email:

*The Southwark Business Excellence Awards aim to recognise and reward the wide range of firms based in the borough, which stretches from Southbank to London Bridge and Surrey Docks in the east, and to Bermondsey, Peckham, Camberwell and Dulwich in the south. The area is home to 18,000 businesses, including major international companies and brilliant community businesses. It also boasts world class entertainment and arts venues as well as some of the best eating establishments in the city.

For general inquiries about the awards, contact: or call 0208 726 7968.