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Three Queenstown venues are up for national hospitality awards for exceeding expectations — a new kid on the block, a stalwart pub and a fish and chipper.
Pub on Wharf and Muskets and Moonshine join the shortlist as finalists in this year’s Hospitality New Zealand Awards for Excellence, along with Erik’s Fish and Chips, which opened about two and a-half-years ago.
Both pubs are operated by the Southern Pub Company — Pub on Wharf is a finalist for the best bar award and Muskets a finalist for the best redeveloped food and
Muskets director and Pub on Wharf general manager Chris Buckley said the transformation of Muskets before it opened last year was a "mammoth effort".
"Most of us will remember it as the Buffalo Club, and she was pretty old and run down."
The job was "massive, just total destruction". More than 18 tonnes of rubble was removed.
"We did something pretty special."
The redevelopment project took about six weeks to complete and the venue had thrived since opening, and was listed on TripAdvisor as the second best restaurant in Queenstown.
It was the first time Pub on Wharf had reached the finals.
"We have had a crack at this before and unfortunately fell short, but this time to crack it is awesome," Mr Buckley said.
"To be up at this level is really great.
"Every few years we do a redevelopment of the pub just to make it a little bit more special."
He says it was "really tough" to maintain the venue’s standard, which took constant investment and innovation, but the work was worth the reward.
While fish and chip shops are not often seen among the competition’s finalists, marketing whizzes have taken Erik’s Fish and Chips to a new level.
Erik’s owner and general manager Anna Arndt put being shortlisted in the excellence in marketing category down to their "bright, colourful brand".
"We are really excited because we are such a young business, as well.
"For us it’s just wonderful."
Erik’s Fish and Chips in Wanaka was also sharing the success, being shortlisted as a finalist for the best newcomer — food and beverage award.
• The Cardrona Hotel and Omakau Commercial Hotel have both been named finalists in the best country hotel category, while Edgewater, in Wanaka, is a finalist in the best hotel section.
Dunedin’s Emersons Taproom is a finalist in the excellence in training and staff development category.
The winners of the annual competition will be announced at an awards ceremony in Queenstown on September 27.