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How BOIPA’s Innovative Pub of the Year Award candidates are raising the bar

After a two year absence the Irish Pub Awards Gala returns to celebrate excellence and innovation in the pub sector this Wednesday night (November 16th). The awards are open to all member of VFI and LVA.

BOI Payment Acceptance (BOIPA) is sponsoring the Innovative Pub of the Year category, rewarding pubs demonstrating how innovation has significantly improved their business, either through increased revenue, an increase in customer numbers and/ or cost savings.

The seven regional winners shortlisted for the All Ireland award fit this category demonstrating this through renovations, the introduction of new customer offerings and/or the implementation of new processes.

Gathering pace in their pride of place

As owners of one of Portlaoise’s busiest pubs and a beating heart within the downtown Portlaoise community, Niamh and PJ Kavanagh demonstrated forthright innovation at Kavanagh’s Bar & Venue to welcome back regulars during the pandemic with their modern entertainment space and beer garden offering safe area for customers to socialise once again, with supporting structure and processes.

Their live performance space breathed life back into Portlaoise’s main street and continues to do so with well-known artists and comedians taking to Kavanagh’s stage most days every week. Their use of apps also proved popular with customers to pay for food and drink, and their one of a few pubs with an integrated smart TV. The premises is always front and centre for Portlaoise’s Old Fort Festival, which has become a roaring summer success.

Similarly, Fred Malzard, proprietor of Malzards – O’ Grady’s Pub has always been a reliable platform of lively engagement in Stoneyford, Co. Kilkenny.

Despite the pub being well-established, having been in Malzard’s family and the Stoneyford community for over 200 years, he has never rested on his laurels. Malzard’s unique hurling experience has been hotly received, bringing a mix of new customers to the village to experience the ancient Irish sport. Their Irish experience reinvigorates tradition with customers being welcomed to engage with the Irish art of storytelling in a 21st Century setting. Their new glamping site will only add to magic of the venue.

Given how quickly The Rock in Cloyne has established itself as a local favourite, you can be forgiven for not knowing it only opened this year. 15 months of hard work and renovations has given the premises a new lease of life and welcomed customers back to a reinvigorated public house (It was formerly Aunt Biddy’s before being bought by Seanie Costine and Kerri McCarthy).

The pub’s fresh new décor delicately blends modern panache with old world charm, with Seanie and Kerri sourcing artefacts from fairs and antique shops across Ireland. As well as renovating, live music and a popular food menu has driven more custom to the bar as well as Cloyne itself. See the renovations for yourself here.

Tailoring for a new age of tastes

With gin growing in popularity and more new distilleries popping up across the country, Andy’s Bar & Restaurant, in Monaghan Town brings new gin styles and flavours to one place with their cutting-edge gin menu. Celebrating 40 years in the hospitality sector next year, The Redmond family are expertly placed to deliver a gin emporium that pits something different with the classics to their Monaghan town customers. Their Andy’s Whiskeys of the World Tour brings 15 unknown whiskeys to their customers palate.

Their food menu remains a constant hit with locals and visitors and has been consistently voted Monaghan’s Gastro Pub of the Year at the Irish Restaurants Award

While the Craft beer revolution is no longer new, it shows no sign of fading away and with The McMahon Brothers, founders of Mother Macs Public House in Limerick City committed to celebrating craft beer from Ireland and abroad it’s little wonder. Turning seven years old next month, the pub’s well established craft beer reputation offers beer from their  in-house macro breweries and Independent & Local Breweries. They now hold one of the widest selections of Craft Beers in Limerick City operating guest taps, rotational taps, specials, as well as their staple favourites. Their “Meet the Brewer” live stream has only driven interest and traffic to the premises

The premises has a long history in Limerick, dating back to 1787, and while their drinks offering and atmosphere is innovative, the setting remains through to the public house’s traditional past as pub, tea and grocery shop

Adapting to the times

With the hospitality sector feeling the impacts of staff shortages, the staff and management at Nevins Newfield Inn, Mulranny, Mayo had a novel, tech savvy solution. Running out of human options the team hired two robots to support their staff.

Starting out as a small pub and grocery over 20 years ago, owner John Nevin has never been afraid to innovative. The arrival of Bellabots are the latest part of his establishment’s journey. He explains how they have supported his team in the video below.

The Camden in Dublin 2 is another bar continually adapting to changing times too, with their premises offering multipurpose usage to suit customer needs. Acting as one of  Dublin’s premium sports bar, this multipurpose venue offers a  number of bespoke areas including cocktail bar, restaurant, private speakeasy bar, private cinema & The Five Lamps Brewery. The venue is now more than just a late bar and nightclub.

Adapting to the needs of lunchtime workers too, The Camden now has multiple USB charging points dotted around the room allowing staff to enjoy a working lunch or a quick charge.

Best of luck to all the contenders on Wednesday Night!