Andrew Clark received the top acknowledgement at the 2021 Australian Hotels Association (Victoria) State Awards for Excellence earlier this week, being honoured with The Nikakis Award.

Publican of the Cremorne Hotel and Wharf Shed in Geelong, Clark (pictured above) received the night’s most coveted award for embracing opportunities for innovation such as CUB tank beer and a willingness to attend pub industry field visits.

He was chosen for promoting a proud and sustainable industry and has been instrumental in liquor accords and sits as an AHA Divisional Representative, Council and Executive member.

“It was a big surprise on the night. You never really think you’re going to win these awards and I never expected anything,” Clark told Australian Hotelier.

“Everyone has been very supportive since Monday, calling me, texting me and emailing me and our team back home has been just as excited as me, putting the award up on Facebook.

“The night was a big success, it’s always a highlight of the year and people were happy to be out and celebrate. The AHA staff deserve a big acknowledgement for all their hard work.”

AHA (Vic) president David Canny said Clark was a well deserved candidate with his dedication to the industry.

“Our Nikakis award winner, Andrew Clark, certainly fits the bill of sustained performance and commitment. He is humble, good humoured and generous,” Canny said.

“He is generous with his time to provide input into the AHA, generous in his support for other publicans, and generous in his support for his staff.

“Never one to take a backward step, he is always forthcoming in his advice to our industry partners, particularly Tabcorp.”

He added: “Andrew is the loveable publican, somewhat of a quiet achiever, not loud or brash but always stoking the fire.  A true family man, he values the enjoyment of life and is more worried about his peers, his staff and his customers.”

The night saw 41 total awards presented at The Palladium at Crown, Melbourne, on Monday, 17 May, with Lower Plenty Hotel, claiming Overall Hotel of the Year -Metropolitan and Best Outdoor Experience – Metropolitan, while The Ian Larkin Overall Hotel of the Year – Regional and Best Hotel – Pub Style Accommodation was won by The Criterion Hotel.

The Heritage Balnarring also had a successful night, taking out both Best Casual Dining – Regional and Best Outdoor Experience – Regional.

The People’s Choice Award received a record amount of votes, with the award going to The Middle Hotel Korumburra.

The full list of award recipients can be found below:

Nikakis Award – Andrew Clark

Ian Larkin Overall Hotel of the Year – Regional  – The Criterion Hotel, Sale

Overall Hotel of the Year – Metropolitan – Lower Plenty Hotel

Chef of the Year – Colin Rafferty and Damien Quinn

Excellence in Service – Michelle McQuilton

Emerging Leader of the Year – Nicole Irvine

Best Takeaway Initiative Award – The Western Hotel – Ballarat

Best Pub Restaurant – Regional – Tinamba Hotel

Best Pub Restaurant – Metropolitan – MPD Steak Kitchen Caulfield

Best Pub Bar – Regional – Apollo Bay Hotel

Best Pub Bar – Metropolitan – Botanical Hotel & York on Lilydale

Best Family Dining – Zagame’s Berwick Hotel

Best Casual Dining – Regional – The Heritage Balnarring

Best Casual Dining – Metropolitan – The Camden Hotel

Best PubTAB – Regional – Grand Junction Hotel

Best PubTAB – Metropolitan – Newmarket Tavern

Best Gaming Venue with 50 Machines of Less – Regional – The Dava Hotel

Best Gaming Venue with 50 Machines of Less – Metropolitan Templestowe Hotel

Best Gaming Venue with 51 Machines of More – Regional – Zagame’s Ballarat Hotel

Best Gaming Venue with 51 Machines of More – Metropolitan Sugar Gum Hotel

Best Keno Venue – Regional – The Middle Hotel Korumburra

Best Keno Venue – Metropolitan – Welcome Stanger Hotel

Best Outdoor Experience – Regional – The Heritage Balnarring

Best Outdoor Experience – Metropolitan – Lower Plenty Hotel

Best Function And Event Space – Platform 28

Best Rooftop Experience – Telegraph Hotel

Best Hotel Accommodation – Taylors Lakes Hotel

Best Hotel – Pub Style Accommodation – The Criterion Hotel, Sale

Best Innovative Retail Space – Great Ocean Road Brewhouse

Best Sports Bar – Regional – The Grovedale Hotel

Best Sports Bar – Metropolitan – Highpoint Hotel

Best Speciality Bar – Queenscliff Brewhouse

Best Presented Beer – Hophaus Euro Bar Bistro

Best Environmental Initiative – The Vine Hotel – Wangaratta

Best Redeveloped Hotel – Food & Beverage – Woolsthorpe Union Station Hotel

Best Redeveloped Hotel – Gaming – Torquay Hotel

Best Hotel Group Operator – Sand Hill Road

Outstanding Achievement in Training – Zagame’s Caulfield Hotel

People’s Choice Award – The Middle Hotel Korumburra

Best Marketed Hotel – Hotel Esplanade

Best Live Entertainment Venue – The Corner Hotel

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