Wining and Dining
Ipswich pub pips a glittering national line-up
When Clive and Mary-Anne Johnson left the land 30 years ago at Rockhampton and bought a pub in Ipswich, they had big plans.
Still, none could have prepared them for the surprise this month when their beloved Prince Alfred was named best regional hotel in Australia.
“I was looking at Clive’s face when they announced it and it was just gold,” says general manager Peter Coultas.
So just how did an Ipswich pub pip a stellar round-up of players across the nation with all their ocean views and big-name chefs and iconic locations?
It might have been PA’s stunning transformation in recent years, including the addition of Char’d restaurant and Tap’d – the biggest craft beer bar, with 72 on tap, in the southern hemisphere.
It could have been the historic significance, reaching back into the 1800s when the hotel was opened, to be rebuilt more than a century later after a fire in the early 1960s.
“One of the judges said you know, venues can be the same, they’ve all got beer, they’ve got a nice atmosphere and a nice outlook but the difference that made it was the staff,” Mr Coultas said.
“Anyone can have a beautiful looking venue but it’s the staff that really make it shine – I thought it was a great comment.”
And the hotel’s 67 employees have evidently learned to shine under pressure – one kitchen pass can put out 600 meals in a single night for Char’d and Tap’d. Friday and Saturday night functions are fully booked through until Christmas.
The Australian Hotels Association’s Awards for Excellence were announced on September 18 on the Gold Coast and the PA Hotel was named ‘Overall Hotel of the Year’ in the regional category.