Dartford Licensees Shortlisted as Finalist for British Institute of Innkeeping’s ‘Licensee of the Year’ Award

Licensees, Chris Michaelas and April Reeves, of vibrant community pub The Dartford Sports Bar, have been announced as one of the six finalists for this year’s Licensee of the Year Award (LOYA). The pub is owned by the UK’s leading community pub company, Admiral Taverns, which owns approximately 1,500 pubs across England, Scotland and Wales. 


Run in partnership with Sky Business, the LOYA is recognised by the pub industry as one of the most rigorous and prestigious awards for individual licensees across the UK.  Selected from over 300 entrants, the finalists have been chosen based on their community impact, support for their teams, commitment to sustainability and plans for diversification.  


Chris and April took over The Dartford Sports Bar back in March 2020 – just days before the first lockdown – and have since created a lively and inclusive social hub that supports all aspects of community life including several local charities. Their wealth of industry knowledge and expertise, combined with their passion for the community has been invaluable in unlocking the pub’s potential and creating a popular go-to destination.  


In 2022, the family-run establishment underwent a transformational £400,000 refurbishment which saw a complete re-model of the interior and exterior of the pub to ensure it caters to all tastes. 


The spacious interior is split into two zones, a quieter restaurant area for those who like a peaceful dining experience and a booth area, containing private televisions – complete with top sporting channels such as  Sky Sports and TNT –  with  which can be personalised to the customer’s choice of station.  


Outside, the pub features a large, covered courtyard which is made up of individual, heated booths containing their own televisions and can be used all year round for al fresco dining and drinking. 


The pub is also complete with a pool table, a dartboard, a dance floor and a DJ booth and offers an extensive drinks and food menu including pub classics as well as American-style sharing platters. 


Chris Michaelas, Licensee of The Dartford Sports Bar, said: “It’s an absolute honour to have been selected as a finalist for the Licensee of the Year Award! These awards recognise the very best of the best in the pub industry so being chosen means the world. Since coming to the helm, April and I have worked extremely hard to create a welcoming venue that everyone can enjoy and that most importantly, brings people together. 


I’d like to take this opportunity to thank our incredible customers, team and of course Admiral Taverns for all their ongoing support in making this possible and we hope to continue making them proud for years to come.” 


Since the competition opened in January 2024, each pub has undergone a thorough selection process including hosting a mystery diner, financial and online audits and face-to-face interviews with the judges. The winners will be announced at Sky HQ on Monday 17th June. 


Troy Bett, Business Development Manager at Admiral Taverns, commented: “I’m absolutely delighted that Chris and April have been recognised for their fantastic efforts at The Dartford Sports Bar. They couldn’t be more deserving of this accolade and on behalf of myself and the whole team at Admiral Taverns, we wish them the very best of luck on 17th June.”