Entry Criteria

Entry Criteria

Pub of the Year

Each entrant to this category will be judged across all aspects of services and facilities.  Judges will be looking for a quality customer experience in terms of a great atmosphere, a warm welcome, appropriate entertainment, a comfortable environment and a great range of drinks. All entries will be visited by a mystery shopper.


Pub Food of the Year

Each entrant to this category will be judged across all aspects of services and facilities.  Judges will be looking for an uncompromising commitment to flavour, quality and healthy, honest food coupled with excellent customer service, value for money and a comfortable and relaxed environment.  Use of local product and the provision of a family-friendly environment will be of particular importance. This category will be judged by mystery diner. Entrants into this category will be required to provide a complimentary voucher for a meal.


Bar Person of the Year

Entrants to this award will have been in their current role for at least one year up to and including March 20, 2020.  Entrants can nominate themselves or be nominated by their manager.  Judges will be looking for commitment to excellence in all areas of their role and particularly how they have contributed to the success of the business coupled with any significant personal achievements that have impacted on their role as bar person.  Entrants to this award will be asked to complete a short written submission giving further details.  The shortlisted candidates will be interviewed at their place of work by the LCN judges.


Style Bar of the Year

This category is open to all bars that have a created a strong theme that is designed to create specific customer appeal.  Judges will be looking for a pronounced ambience in the bar- whether full of energy, a tranquil place or the place to be seen. This will include the music played, the design and décor and the range of drinks offered and the type of service.  This category will be judged by mystery shoppers.


Tourist Pub of the Year

This category is open to any pub that makes a significant contribution to tourism in their area.  The pub may be located in a tourist area or is, by reputation and marketing, a destination pub for a wide geographic area and overseas guests.

This category will be judged by a mystery shopper and who will be looking for exceptional performance in all areas but particularly:

  • A great range of locally-sourced drinks
  • Exceptional customer service
  • Authentic surroundings
  • A unique selling point in terms of the theme, entertainment or food

Hotel of the Year – up to 75 rooms

Each hotel will be judged across all aspects of services and facilities with particular emphasis on the following key areas – cleanliness, service, food, bedrooms and bathrooms.  Quality is of key importance, but judges will also expect the level of services and range of facilities in hotels to increase in accordance with their size or star rating.

The hotels in this category should have a reception desk staffed for a minimum of eight hours, bistro/ restaurant facilities ought to be available seven days per week, room service should be available, and there should be 24-hour on-site management.  This category will be judged by mystery guest.  Entrants into this category will be required to provide a complimentary voucher for an overnight stay.


Hotel of the Year – over 75 rooms

Each hotel will be judged across all aspects of services and facilities with particular emphasis on the following key areas – cleanliness, service, food, bedrooms and bathrooms.  Quality is of key importance, but judges will also expect the level of services and range of facilities in hotels to increase in accordance with their size or star rating.

The hotels in this category must have 24-hour reception, room service, a choice of dining facilities, concierge services, dedicated business centre, and gymnasium, pool or spa.

This category will be judged by mystery guest. Entrants into this category will be required to provide a complimentary voucher for an overnight stay.


Live Music Venue of the Year


Newcomer of the Year

This award is open to any hospitality business that has been in business for less than two years up to and including 20th March 2020.   Judges will be looking for a business with a unique selling point that has made a significant impact and drawn positive attention since opening.  The customer experience is of vital importance and mystery shoppers will carry out the initial judging.   Please note: hotels, restaurants, café/bistros not entered into other categories will be required to provide a complimentary voucher for meals and an overnight stay.


Restaurant of the Year

Each entrant to this category will be judged across all aspects of services and facilities with particular emphasis on the food and service offering.  Food can be simple or elaborate, so long as it is based on the finest, fresh ingredients, is beautifully presented and tastes superb.  Judges will be looking for an uncompromising commitment to quality, a varied and innovative menu and the highest standards of customer service.

This category will be judged by mystery diner. Entrants into this category will be required to provide a complimentary voucher for meals.


Cafe/Bistro of the Year

Each entrant to this category will be judged across all aspects of service and facilities with particular emphasis on the food and beverage offering.  Judges will be looking for a relaxed, informal ambience, uncompromising commitment to top quality local food and excellent customer care.  This category is judged by mystery diner. Entrants into this category will be required to provide a complimentary voucher for meals.


Lifetime Achievement Award

The Lifetime Achievement Award aims to recognise any individual in hospitality business who has dedicated themselves to the growth and success of hospitality industry.  The winner of this award will have made and outstanding contribution in their sector and have been a model of excellence throughout their career. The winner of this category is chosen by a panel of LCN management although the public are welcome to nominate candidates.


Fish and Chip Shop of the Year

The judges of this category will be looking for excellent fish and chips.  They will also assess the speed and efficiency of service, cleanliness and the welcome from the staff. Eye catching frontage and an attractive shop interior, with informative promotional point-of-sale material, will also gain points. This award will be judged by mystery shopper.


Community Bar of the Year

This award is designed to recognise bars that have engaged with and supported the local community, providing a wide range of services and events to meet the needs of their customers.  Each bar will fill in a questionnaire and one bar from each county and two bars from Belfast will be chosen to compete in this category.  The winner of this award will be decided by public vote, and votes can be made either in the bar or by social media.  The winner of the award will be the bar with the most votes.


Outstanding Customer Service Award

This award is designed to recognise and celebrate the ‘best practice’ standards of customer care in the hospitality industry.  The award is open to all entrants who can demonstrate how customer service is at the very heart of their business.  Judges will be looking for exceptional service standards, enthusiastic and engaging staff who exceed the expectations of their customers.  This category will be judged by mystery shopper.  Please note: hotels, restaurants, café/bistros not entered into other categories will be required to provide a complimentary voucher for meals and an overnight stay.


Chef of the Year

This award seeks nominations are from all food businesses, whether in a fixed restaurant environment or championing the street food or pop-up restaurant phenomenon. This is an opportunity to nominate a chef that is an unsung hero and deserving of recognition. Nominations may be for chefs from any part of the hospitality and catering industry and either for a specific achievement or for commitment over many years.

Successful candidates should demonstrate:

  • Strong evidence of style, design and innovation with a unique concept
  • Original ideas which are making a real difference within the marketplace
  • A clear business philosophy and strategy which is sustainable
  • A commitment to good provenance, sourcing and the local environment
  • Evidence of recognition and awards as appropriate
  • Menus which reflect the unique character of the food offer
  • Supporting materials as appropriate

The candidate should:

  • Have a proven track record
  • Be a highly professional craftsperson
  • Demonstrate true passion for food
  • Show clear examples of excellence and achievement in his or her field

Nominations should include a brief resume of the candidate’s experience and current position and a brief outline on why the candidate deserves recognition with specific examples.

The process: The shortlisted candidates should expect to be interviewed prior to the awards evening when the winner will be announced.

To ensure that the judging takes account of all the attributes of each nomination and in turn delivers an objective result, all nominations should include the following information where available and applicable: –

  1. How has the nominee contributed to their business over and above their job
  2. Please describe the qualities that make the nominee special and stand out from others – what’s their USP
  3. Please supply statistical and quantitative information appropriate to the category which clearly describes the dimensions of the nominee’s position and achievements. Dependent on the category this will include:
  • Reporting lines, no of reports
  • No of covers/transactions/sales/profit figures – budget achievement
  • Staff retention percentages and successes within their brigade?
  1. Please describe how your nominee has contributed to both the industry and the local community or the community at large.

As an example, this may include: –  mentoring; judging; charitable activity; community activity; championing a cause (provenance/local/sustainable/educational etc.


Entrepreneur of the Year

This category is open to any entrepreneur successfully managing one or more businesses in a way that demonstrates entrepreneurial characteristics. Judges will be looking for key characteristics such their aptitude for the business, commitment to the industry and their ability to consistently meet high standards of business excellence.

The winner of this award will be able to demonstrate how they meet the criteria in terms of:

  • Vision and passion: applicants must have energy, creativity, entrepreneurial purpose and passion.
  • Perseverance: applicants must have the confidence, conviction, tenacity, plan and overall professional acumen to take a high-potential business and scale it into a market leader.
  • Risk-taking: applicants must show how in order to achieve they had to take risks and overcome obstacles
  • Growth and viability: applicants should have ambitious company growth goals and have achieved good growth with potential for more.

This award will be judged by written submission and entrants can self-nominate or be nominated by another.


Digital Marketing Campaign of the Year

This award is open to any business that has introduced a new product to the hospitality, foodservice or tourism markets in an innovative way to reach their marketplace effectively and successfully.  Entrants should give evidence of the content, the types of different media used, the results achieved and how these have increased awareness, attracted new customers and increased sales. This award will be judged by written submission.


Guidelines for Submission

Entries should be based on product launches carried out in the last year.  You may include up to three items of supporting evidence which can include photographs and videos.