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Pub Of The Week: Tony Leonard’s first quarter summary

Neil Mitchell
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DeBortoli 2022 1st Quarter Summary (28 January – 29 April 2022)

May 6, 2022

With some reservations, pub life in Victoria is near enough returning to pre-COVID/March 2020, with most businesses enjoying good strong trade. So with that said, let’s look back at the first quarter of DeBortoli Pub of the Week 2022. This has been a very solid start to the year with nice surprises in food/drink/hospitality presented.

My major concern though is a line that some pubs have taken and the essence of a pub – communal gathering to enjoy a meal – has seen the bistros in some pubs decommissioned and seemingly never to return.  Whilst acknowledging that staff is difficult to find, I hope this is a temporary situation and pubs are genuinely doing their best to bring in skilled people to fill the void.

Also, during this time the Victorian Branch of the AHA presented its 2022 State Awards covering all aspects of business in a pub in both Regional Victoria and Metropolitan Melbourne.

Many of these pubs will be known to you as most have traded successfully for years.

The top award, in honour of the late Nik Nikarkis, was awarded to The Emerald, Clarendon St Sth Melbourne.  The Lewis family, hailing from the Mallee, started their pub journey the best part of 50 years ago, and have brilliantly run The Emerald for nearly 30 of those. Just a fabulous pub.

Locally the best overall pub gong for 2022 went to The Glenferrie Hotel, in Burwood Rd, Hawthorn,  whilst the regional award for best casual dining went to the beautiful San Remo Hotel.

And yes there’s a Parma award. Locally it was the Paradise Valley in Clematis, with your best outdoor experience in Victoria found its way to the Creekside Hotel, Warracknabeal.

Go to the AHA facebook page for all the nominees and winners..

DeBortoli best for the first quarter…

(With apologies to the Hobsons Bay Hotel Williamstown, these are my favourites so far…)

  • Empress Hotel, North Fitzroy (reviewed on February 4) Corner Scotchmer and Nicholson, the Empress is a true pub for all ages, with a standout front bar, great beer, a very neat Dart Board with VIP Ropes securing the area.  And its major plus? In a suburb (and surrounds) that limit trading early in the week, it’s 7 days and long hours. More power to the team there.
  • Paradise Valley Clematis (reviewed on March 8) At the end of Wellington Rd, this gorgeous looking pub with the natural beauty of Dandenongs has the most welcoming front bar, a dining room taking in the serenity and Puffing Billy making an appearance to the rear. Experienced hands have successfully navigated the right balance of pub for the locals and destination for the out-of-towners.

And the different touches come in the form of Goldys Tavern (once the Leinster Arms) Collingwood with their very own take on the iconic Chiko Roll; the wonderful photo of the racecourse grandstand at Caulfield on fire in 1922 in the Racecourse Hotel and the resurrection of the Pig and Whistle at Trentham East.


Very solid start to 2022. ALL  pubs in the first quarter have something to offer and it is obvious that those staff who have returned to their jobs in pub hospitality are pulling out every endeavour to please.

Thanks to the many suggestions received. All correspondence via email is read and when an answer is needed I will get back to you.  Please keep comments and suggestions coming to

Neil Mitchell