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Northern Ireland’s best hospitality venues revealed at Pub of the Year Awards

Olga Walls, Chair, Hospitality Ulster with Morgan Watson, Horiatio Todd’s, Belfast, winner of Food & Beverage Manager of the Year at Hospitality Ulster’s Pub of the Year Awards at Plaza Hotel, Belfast.

The search to find Northern Ireland’s top hospitality hot spots came to a dramatic conclusion last night, as the cream of the local hospitality industry gathered at the Plaza Hotel, Belfast for Hospitality Ulster’s Pub of the Year Awards 2016.

Following a record number of entries from pubs, hotels and restaurants, a total of 46 shortlisted premises and individuals from right across Northern Ireland went head to head to be named the toast of the trade.

A total of 13 awards were presented at the glamourous ceremony, which was hosted by U105 presenter Frank Mitchell and attended by VIP guests.

New for 2016, Hospitality Ulster introduced a Food & Beverage Manager of the Year Award, which was open to entrants from pubs, restaurants and hotels and the prestigious title was picked up by Morgan Watson from Horatio Todd’s in Belfast.

In recognition of the great diversity of pubs in Northern Ireland, there were three separate Pub of the Year Awards, recognising the best City, Urban and Rural pubs.

After a hotly contested competition the three Pub of the Year winners were:

  • Pub of the Year City – The National & Sixty6, Belfast
  • Pub of the Year Urban – Kiwi’s Brew Bar, Portrush
  • Pub of the Year Rural – Matties Meeting House, Cairncastle

The Awards once again recognised the growing importance of locally sourced food, through three Commitment to Local Food Awards for pubs, restaurants and hotels (in partnership with Food NI).  With fierce competition in this category, the eventual winners were:

  • Commitment to Local Food (Pub) – The Taphouse, Enniskillen
  • Commitment to Local Food (Restaurant)- Native by Yellow Door, MAC, Belfast
  • Commitment to Local (Food Hotel) – Bushmills Inn Hotel, Bushmills

The Barperson of the Year Award (in association with Sunday Life) recognised truly exceptional individuals and was entered via nominations through the Sunday Life.  Pub-goers across Northern Ireland embraced the opportunity to share their appreciation of their favourite barperson and Paul Rocks from Aether & Echo in Belfast clinched the winning title, with Feargal Shannon from Crowes Nest in Enniskillen being highly commended.

Meanwhile, Hotel Bar of the Year 1, 2 and 3 Star was awarded to the Ivanhoe Inn & Hotel in Carryduff whilst the Galgorm Resort & Spa in Ballymena scooped the Hotel Bar of the Year 4 and 5 Star title.

The Hospitality Ulster Rising Star award (in partnership with Ulster University) went to Hollie Ford – an exceptional young student, who graduated in July with a first-class honours degree in Culinary Arts Management from Ulster University and is currently working as a pastry chef in Deanes EIPIC.

A Commitment to the Community award was presented to the Front Page Bar in Ballymena for the second year running, recognising its outstanding contribution to local charities, good causes, cross community initiatives and efforts to increase industry standards.

The final award of the night was the Industry Legend award (in partnership with Hospitality Review NI).  The award was presented to Mid Ulster hospitality entrepreneur, Henry McGlone, owner of Dorman’s, Mary’s Bar and Secrets Nightclub in Magherafelt for his outstanding contribution to the local hospitality industry.

Commenting on the awards, Olga Walls, chairman of Hospitality of Ulster, said: “Our Awards recognise and reward excellence and the important contribution local venues make, not only within their own communities, but to the hospitality industry as a whole.

“This year we further developed our award categories to ensure we recognise all the people and businesses, from the rising stars to seasoned pros that make Northern Ireland’s hospitality industry world-famous. Standards were higher than ever this year, which is a real indication of the high quality and diversity of the sector.

“I would like to congratulate all of this year’s winners and commend all of our shortlisted venues and finalists; to reach the final of a competition of this calibre is no mean feat; each and every one should be proud to be counted amongst the best in Northern Ireland.”

Hospitality Ulster’s Pub of the Year Awards are the only industry recognised awards. After rigorous judging by the panel, the shortlisted premises from across Northern Ireland were put through their paces with mystery shoppers visiting their premises, ensuring they adhere to best industry standards before the winners were decided.

This year’s Awards are supported by Britvic, Coca-Cola, Diageo, Dillon Bass, Drinks Inc., Henderson Foods, Molson Coors, Richmond Marketing, Tennent’s NI, United Wine Merchants, and media partners, Sunday Life, Hospitality Review NI and U105.

For further information about the Pub of the Year Awards 2016 and for the full list of winners, shortlisted venues and finalists, visit www.nipuboftheyear.org

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