SIX city businesses will be competing for the title of Favourite Business of the Year award in October.

One of them will win the coveted title, which is sponsored by the Evening Times and is part of the Glasgow Business Awards 2018.

The awards' main sponsor is Royal Bank of Scotland.

Starting today and finishing on Friday, we'll be focusing on two nominees each day.

And on Friday we'll let you know how you can vote.

Here are the first two contenders - DF Concerts and Piece.

GEOFF Ellis and his colleagues have promoted more concerts and outdoor shows and organised more festivals than can possibly be counted.

Yet even when he has the prospect of a night off, he still can't resist the temptation of taking in a live show, even if it is a couple of hundred miles away.

"I went down to Manchester last Tuesday to see Roger Waters," he says. "His Glasgow show had clashed with the TRNSMT festival on Glasgow Green, so I wasn't able to see him.

"Instead of having a night in, and a break inbetween the TRSNMT weekends," he laughs, "I'm jumping on a train to go and see a gig."

The excitement of promoting a live show has never quite left Ellis, the CEO of Glasgow-based DF Concerts. Over the years the company has organised T in the Park and promoted countless hundreds of shows at venues as diverse as the SSE Hydro, King Tut's, Hampden and the SECC. Globally popular bands and artists such as Rihanna, the Eagles, Bruce Springsteen, Take That, Eminem, AC/DC, Mumford & Sons and Radiohead have all played major gigs north of the border, each and every ticket bearing the words, 'D.F. Concerts'. Paul Simon's Farewell Tour show at the Hydro tonight (Wed 11) will be presented by D.F.

Ellis, who says it's an "honour" for D.F. to be nominated for the title of Glasgow's Favourite Business, is happy with the way TRSNMT has gone this year. "Great atmosphere, great audience," he says. "It's fantastic to see everybody really enjoying and behaving themselves at the same time."

He's particularly taken with the rise of Glasgow-born Gerry Cinnamon, who wowed the audience at TRNSMT. "He's a future headliner for sure," he says. "I've not seen a rise so meteoric as his since Oasis's, really."

Ellis came north in 1992 to join DF as promoter at its much-loved Glasgow venue, King Tut's. T in the Park followed in 1994, at a time there were only two music festivals in the UK.

"There's been a massive growth since those days, not just in the number of shows that we promote but in the number of tours generally. There are more tours now than ever before," he says.

"We usually do a minimum of 700 shows a year, pushing towards a thousand shows some years, which is incredible. The great thing is that everybody here still has a great passion for live music. We're excited by it. It has never been about just collecting another paycheck. It's never been a chore for me to come into work.

"We're also aware that people coming to each show could potentially find it a life-affirming moment, so we give it our all in terms of presentation and everything else." Doing so many gigs at different venues allows D.F. to spot new or emerging musical trends, he adds.

"I'm delighted with the way the company has grown, too," he adds. "At the last count, in a Pollstar survey, we were 17th or 19th in the world, which is very pleasing, especially as we're working in such a small country as Scotland in population terms."

The one artist he wishes he'd worked with? He laughs. "The one that got away was David Bowie, a huge hero of mine. I booked him for T in the Park and I was on cloud nine. He had heart problems and he had to pull out, but I was absolutely gutted.

"I always hoped it would happen again and I kept phoning David's agent, whom I know very well, and he kept saying that David was not going to tour again. Obviously, at that time we had no idea how ill he had become."


IT'S not every sandwich shop that openly says its customer service is "on the charming side of aggressive." But Piece, which has been operating successfully in Glasgow for a decade, is evidently doing something right.

From its beginnings in Finnieston, the chain now has six units across the city. It takes pride in doing things differently - not just in its brash service but, more importantly, in the food it serves.

"Our menu has without a doubt helped change the way customers view lunchtimes," says owner John Moore. "When people say they're going for a 'piece' it means they are coming to us. We have challenged the ham and cheese brigade. And we don't do tuna sweetcorn."

Piece's sit-in sandwich menu ranges from the Chicken Ole (roast chicken, chorizo, manchego, salsa and sweet chilli mayo) to the Dirty Fat Boy (kettle ham, egg mayo, mature cheddar, garlic & Dijon mustard mayo, and gherkins.) The Banh Mi is made from slow-roast pulled pork, pickled carrots, pickled chillies, coriander, sriracha (a hot sauce) and prawn crackers.

The specials include the Randi Scandi - hot-smoked Scottish salmon, boiled new potatoes, sliced boiled egg, honey mustard dressing and horeseradish mayo - to Call Me Papa, which offers roast ham, salami Milano, gouda and sun-blushed tomatoes.

"The Chicken Ole is our biggest seller," says John, "with a massive New York style Deli sandwich a close second. Fifty pence from each sale of the Sir Big Yin sandwich goes to the Brain Research Trust in honour of Billy Connolly.

John's own background is in sales and hospitality. "I've always admired an industry that attracts pirates and misfits and holds them together to create an experience for the customer," he says. "We literally work the hardest hours in the crappiest environments for other people's pleasure. Also when read Kitchen Confidential by the late great Anthony Bourdain I was hooked."

Piece opened for business in Finnieston, 10 years ago this month. "We were both lucky and crafty but mostly lucky. Finnieston was cheap!

"The area has really come on leaps and bounds over the years. According to one newspaper a few years ago, that was down to us and the Hydro. It was really a combination of entrepreneurs with big ideas and small budgets, and then when the Hydro opened in 2013, it was a perfect storm. The area is amazing and has some of the best food and drink in the country. We are proud as a sandwich shop to have been part of the rebirth of an entire neighbourhood. We have also been blamed for gentrification and the arrival of hipsters. We just love it there."

John acknowledges that lunchtimes are very competitive "- but not on quality. There is a huge variety but we wanted to do something different, and bring a bit of New York City attitude to Glasgow. Most people eat a bad sandwich three times a week. We have them eating a great one five days a week.

"If we can sum us up, I'd say, 'Piece makes Glasgow'," he says. "There are lots of sandwich shops around but no-one else is doing it as loudly as us. We do great food, with brash service and loud tunes. We get complaints from time to time because people aren't used to the way we do things but in reality we pride ourselves on the best sandwiches and the very best service. We are on the charming side of aggressive - and that especially goes for Shaun Harper, our manager in Finnieston."

Piece is "over the moon" to have been nominated for the Favourite Business Award. "Normally we have to pay to get praise - and we're not above doing so - but this is a real treat," adds John. "We really want it as we have been trying to get people to like us for a decade. Or at least tolerate our banter in exchange for a great lunch."