Port Macquarie pubs are facing off in a mighty battle of chicken parmigiana, with two establishments competing in the Australian Hotels Association NSW Awards for Excellence.
Finnian's Tavern and Settlers Inn Hotel are squaring off in a war of epic dinner proportions during the finals of this year's awards at The Star Event Centre in Sydney on November 19.
Wauchope's Hastings Hotel is also nominated in the best steak and best retail liquor outlet of the awards, while Finnian's is vying for best promotional concept.
"Last year we were nominated for five or six categories, this year we have decided to concentrate on two that we think we have a good shot at winning," said Finnian's Tavern general manager Corey Baker.
"We do a couple of hundred parmis a week here and people come in just for them, so we think we are a good shot for that one.
"My honest answer would be that our parmi just beats theirs by a nose. While their one is really good, ours is just a tiny bit better.
"I think its really positive to see regional hotels going up against some of the bigger pub groups.
"It's good for Port Macquarie to see that even though we are not in the big smoke, there is still really positive things happening within our industry in our area."
Settlers is hoping to plate up much of the awards night, vying for best family friendly, best regional local, best sporting entertainment venue, best regional gaming venue, best regional casual dining in northern region and best steak sandwich.
The pub is also competing in the regional hotel of the year section of the awards. Its parent company, Flower Hotels has been named as a finalist for group operator of the year.
Flower Hotels managing director Alistair Flower said Settlers had made a change from their traditional tradie image into the modern era.
"Previously we were a one-dimensional tradies pub and to be seen as regional pub of year you need to have the diversity of everything," he said.
"You need diversity in all aspects of being a good pub, in the food, beverage and entertainment.
"The focus on food and quality customer service is certainly more prevalent now than it has been, the days of being a tradies pub are long gone.
"We're certainly going to be concentrating more on our family facilities but also accommodation, to match the additional tourism in town.
"(For the group) the whole idea was to have a good cluster of hotels, that was always the plan. We are looking at pubs we think we can make a difference in locally.
"If other pubs in our local area came about, I would certainly be interested in looking at them."
Flower Hotels Group includes the Hastings Hotel, Settlers Inn, Fernhill Tavern and Lake Cathie Tavern. Settlers Inn Hotel was presented a Heart of the Community award at the annual AHA NSW Awards for Excellence in November last year.
AHA NSW chief executive John Whelan said over 640 nominations were received across more than 40 categories for the awards this year.
"There's tough competition right across all categories this year," Mr Whelan said.
"Our country and regional hotels really do set the standard. They are the backbone of their communities and it is great to see so many regional venues as finalists in this year's awards.
"I want to congratulate all finalists and wish them all the best on the night, especially those in the running for Regional Hotel of the Year - one of our top awards."
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