The biggest night out of the year just got bigger…
More than 450 guests from across the hospitality trade joined us in the Europa Hotel, Belfast for the 10th annual LCN Gala Awards at the beginning of June – and what a fabulous night out it was!
Living up to their reputation as a great night out from start to finish, this year’s awards included a brand new category – Chef of the Year – and show-stopping live entertainment from NI singing sensation, Peter Corry, who brought elements of his latest show, The Showman is Coming, to the stage at the Europa – to universal acclaim.
Our hosts this year, broadcasters Sarah Travers and Joe Lindsay, steered proceedings throughout the evening, after which everyone danced into the wee small hours at the first ever LCN Aftershow Party, organised in conjunction with our partners at Schweppes.
A massive congratulations to all our winners and finalists! Re-live the highlights by checking out our pictures of all the winners from the night.
The 2019 winners and finalists…
Bar person of the year
Winner: Stephen Dodds, McHugh’s, Belfast
“This was very unexpected and I’m very happy. I love working in McHugh’s and getting to meet new people every day, it’s a great part of the job!” – Stephen Dodds, McHugh’s Bar, Belfast
Category sponsor Patrick Morgan commented: “It’s the fifth year Bushmills has sponsored this award. It’s a very important part of our trade as a local brand, getting good bar tenders to like our brand and promote it is a good thing and we wish all participants success in the future.”
Café/Bistro of the Year
Winner: Sugarcane Bistro, Comber
“We’re ecstatic to win tonight and it just goes to show that hard work does pay off. We’re just over the moon to be with this award.” – Andrea Ross, Sugarcane Café Bistro, Comber
Sponsor Claudia Jones commented: “It’s fantastic to be able to sponsor this award. We have really just this year started to work within foodservice so it was a really brilliant opportunity for us to put our brand out there in hospitality.”
Chef of the Year
Winner: Paul Cunningham, Brunel’s Restaurant, Newcastle
“It’s nice to be recognised but I haven’t won this, my team have. It’s all about team work.” – Paul Cunningham, Brunel’s Restaurant, Newcastle
The judges commented: “This new category was hotly contested and judges had some very difficult decisions to make. The winner of this award is a champion of local products and producers and is also a keen forager. Not only does he produce outstanding food in his restaurant but finds time for fundraising and training of others coming into the industry.”
Community Bar of the Year
Winner: Curran’s Bar and Seafood Steakhouse, Ardglass
“We’re absolutely delighted and we just want to dedicate this award to Paula Curran. We can’t thank everyone enough for voting for us.” – Stephen Jenish, Curran’s Bar and Seafood Steakhouse, Ardglass.
Sponsor Sinead Cavanagh, from Q Radio, said: “We are very much embedded in the community in Northern Ireland and so sponsoring Community Bar of the Year makes sense for us because it is at the heart of what we do.”
Entrepreneur of the Year
Winners: Peter and Ben Ringland, The Ringland Group
“It feels brilliant to win an award of this calibre and we are absolutely delighted to be contributing to Northern Ireland and the tourism and hospitality industry.” – Ben and Peter Ringland, The Ringland Group
Fish and Chip Shop of the Year
Winner: Frew’s, Ahoghill
“We’ve been up here five or six times as a finalist but it’s an unbelievable feeling to win. Thirty-two years we’ve been in this business and we put our whole lives into it, so it’s great to win.” – Stuart Frew, Frew’s Fish and Chips, Ahoghill.
According to sponsor Ivan Bond, the standard this year was exceptional. He added: “The winners are very worthy winners. We are delighted to sponsor this award because it is always such a good competition.” -Ivan Bond, McWhinney’s Sausages
Hotel of the Year (more than 75 rooms)
Winner: Galgorm Spa and Golf Resort, Ballymena
“It’s great for us to be here tonight winning Hotel of the Year. It shows our huge commitment to the hospitality industry here in Northern Ireland. It’s great to see that we are being recognised for our passion, our commitment and for what we deliver for locals and tourists visiting Northern Ireland. – Aaron Logan, Galgorm Spa & Golf Resort, Ballymena.
Sponser Andrew Spratt said: “The hospitality industry in Northern Ireland provides around £1.1bn to the local economy with 45,000 people employed and we are delighted to sponsor an award like this, especially within the hotel sector where we have such a focus in terms of our own firm’s work.”
Hotel of the Year (up to 75 rooms)
Winner: Killyhevlin Lakeside Hotel and Lodges, Enniskillen
“We are over the moon to have won. We came in with a completely open mind tonight and we’re delighted.” – David Morrison, Killyhevlin Lakeside Hotel and Lodges, Enniskillen.
What the judges said: “It was a real treat to stay in this hotel. Staff were friendly, helpful and proactive throughout our visit creating a memorable guest experience in all respects.”
Lifetime Achievement Award
Winner: Patsy O’Kane, former proprietor, The Beech Hill Hotel, Derry/Londonderry
Mixologist of the Year
Winner: Seamus Og Birt, Me & Mrs Jones, Portstewart
“Honestly, I’m absolutely blown away. A huge thank you to LCN for helping us expand the hospitality industry out of Belfast and into new areas.” – Seamus Og Birt, Me & Mrs Jones, Portstewart
Sponsor Mark Troughton commented: “It’s great to sponsor the award because it introduces our new range of mixers to a wider community that we wouldn’t normally get to. Having all the industry in one place allows us to promote our products to a wider audience.”
Newcomer of the Year
Winner: Belfast Grand Central Hotel
“We’re really delighted for the team and all the hard work they have put in over the last year. There’s been a real team effort from everyone involved and I’m delighted to be here this evening.” – Stephen Meldrum, Grand Central Hotel, Belfast
The judges said: “The location and surroundings, both externally and internally, were stunning. The ambiance was also perfect, providing a relaxing and suitably luxurious experience.”
Nightclub of the Year
Winner: Origin, Ballymena
“It feels amazing to have won. I didn’t expect it at all so I’m really chuffed, but without our staff, we would not have been nominated for this.” – Mark McIlrath, Origin, Ballymena.
Sponsor Barry Phillips from Enva said: “It’s good to support the hospitality industry, one of the biggest industries for creating jobs here in Northern Ireland. We’re delighted to be here tonight and offer our congratulations to Origin nightclub.”
Outside Space of the Year
Winner: The Perch Rooftop Bar, Belfast
“We’re ecstatic! In some ways, The Perch invented the outdoor space so it’s good to know we’re still being recognised for it.” – Mark Craig, The Perch Rooftop Bar, Belfast
Sponsor Gareth Rowell commented: “We’re very proud to sponsor Outside Space of the Year because we work so closely with the hospitality industry as a joinery firm fitting out hotels, restaurants, and bars.”
Outstanding Customer Service
Winner: The Chelsea, Belfast
“We are just really proud of the team and how hard they’ve worked over the past five years at The Chelsea. We’ve won this award because we have a fantastic team who are really passionate about what they do.” – Karlo Taylor, The Chelsea, Belfast
The judges said: “The service was impossible to fault. Staff anticipated our every need without being obtrusive in any way. They were confident, well informed and attentive throughout the visit. They created good rapport with customers and really made us feel welcome.”
Pub Food of the Year
Winner: Billy Andy’s Bar and Restaurant, Larne
“We have been a finalist so many times, so it’s brilliant to win this year. Lots of hard work has gone in over the last 30 years and all of our staff are amazing; it’s very well deserved.” – Paul Dalrymple, Billy Andy’s, Larne
Sponsor Madeline Creaney added: “The LCN Awards encourage entrepreneurship and recognise the hard work that those in the industry are doing so it’s an honour to be involved in an event like this and we hope to continue sponsoring it for a number of years to come.”
Pub of the Year
Winner: The Stillhouse, Moira
“I am absolutely delighted because we’re only a year-and-a-half old. It’s been a great night and we’re over the moon to win.” – Stuart Hughes, The Stillhouse, Moira
Sponsor Connor Magill said: “Pub of the Year is a very prestigious award every year in the licensed trade and as far as we’re concerned, it probably is the big one. The competition, like all other categories, is very high and The Stillhouse is a very worthy winner.”
Restaurant of the Year
Winner: James Street, Belfast
“Last year, we won an LCN Award as James Street South and then we had the refurbishment and have won as James Street. They’re two different restaurants but this is the second time we’ve won as the same company, which is fantastic.” – David Gillmore, James Street, Belfast.
The judges said: “The food was superb – the innovative menu used quality ingredients to create exceptional flavours and textures. The presentation of the food was exquisite and staff provided flawless service.”
Style Bar of the Year
Winner: The Jailhouse, Belfast
“It’s great to be recognised for what we’ve done. We only opened last July, so the staff will be really proud. Everyone is really eager to find out how they’ve performed so I’m sure when we send a text round to the whole group now, they’ll be really pleased.” – Zoe Watson, The Jailhouse, Belfast
The judges said: “Mystery shoppers loved the décor and character of this bar – a quirky combination of new and old. An outstanding variety of gins and whiskies, excellent staff and a clever cocktail menu made this winner a favourite.”
Tourist Pub of the Year
Winner: Friel’s Bar and Restaurant, Swatragh
“We are delighted to have won this evening. We’re really surprised but the whole team has put in so much effort and we’re really pleased.” – Catriona Friel, Friel’s Bar and Restaurant, Swatragh.
The judges said: “The winner of this award has created the authenticity and charm of a traditional Irish pub which appeals to both locals and tourists, with a particular emphasis on traditional music, local drinks, great food and a warm welcome to all.”