The bar is being raised in the Northern Ireland pub industry following the launch of the Federation of Retail Licensed Trade (FRLT) Pub of the Year Awards 2009.
Nine categories are up for grabs and the winners will be unveiled at a gala dinner in La Mon Hotel & Country Club on September 8.
The Northern Ireland pub industry is a major contributor to the local economy employing around 34,000 people.
Colin Neill, chief executive FRLT, said: “These awards are about showcasing the cream of Northern Ireland’s pub sector, about rewarding those businesses that are setting the standards in customer service, innovation and investment. In these difficult economic times it is all too easy to focus on the negative aspects of business and to forget to celebrate the positives. These awards present an opportunity for real celebration and I would encourage all publicans whether their premises are large or small, urban or rural, trend-setting or traditional to enter.”
The categories are: Northern Ireland Pub of the Year (sponsored by Diageo); the Antrim, Armagh, Down, Fermanagh, Londonderry, Tyrone and Belfast Regional Pubs of the Year (sponsored by Diageo); Pub Employee of the Year (sponsored by Inbev); New Pub of the Year (sponsored by Britvic); Pub Innovation of the Year (sponsored by Magners); Food Pub of the Year (sponsored by Coca Cola); Tourism Pub of the Year (sponsored by the Northern Ireland Tourist Board) and Neighbourhood Pub of the Year (sponsored by Beannchor). The FRLT Chairman’s Award (sponsored by Dillon Bass) will be presented to an individual who made a major contribution to the development of the licensed trade sector in Northern Ireland.
All premises entered for the awards will be visited by mystery customers to assess their facilities, service, cleanliness and atmosphere and an independent judging panel comprising Belfast Telegraph business editor Lindsay Fergus, Irish News business editor Gary McDonald and News Letter business editor Adrienne McGill will visit the short listed pubs to decide on the overall winners.
Further information is available on www.nipubawards.com or from Inform Communications on 028 9023 3550. The closing date for entries is June 26.