The Grovedale Hotel named regional Victoria’s best pokie pub

May 23, 2024 BY

The Grovedale Hotel beat out seven other finalists to take home the top gong in the Best PubTab Award category at the AHA Victoria State Awards for Excellence this week. Photo: SUPPLIED

THE Grovedale Hotel was one of four local watering holes recognised on Monday night at Victoria’s most prestigious hospitality awards.

The venue was crowned regional Victoria’s Best PubTab at the Australian Hotels Association (AHA) Victoria’s State Awards for Excellence, beating out seven other finalists, including the Torquay Hotel and the Cremorne Hotel in Newtown.

Owner Joel Taylor said the win “felt fantastic”.

“It’s always an honour being a finalist at the AHA Awards. We enter them every year and to be recognised just as a finalist is great and to win an award is even better.

“It’s great recognition for the staff and all the hard work they do throughout the year.”

Jan Juc’s The Beach Hotel was also recognised at this year’s awards, jointly sharing the crown for regional Victoria’s Best Pub Bar with the South Gippsland-based Poowong Hotel.


The Best PubTab award category places a strong emphasis on the customer service, an emphasis shared by the team at The Grovedale Hotel.

“We’re customer service-driven,” Mr Taylor said.

“We feel like our relationship with our customers is our number one asset. Although we have a great property and great facilities, we feel the personal nature of hospitality is one of the most important things.

“We hand-select our staff – not necessarily those who have the highest hospitality skills – but those who have the right personality and the right people skills to deliver that customer service.”

Jan Juc’s The Beach Hotel was also named regional Victoria’s Best Pub Bar this week, an accolade they were awarded jointly with the South Gippsland-based Poowong Hotel, while The Wharf Shed’s Matthew Connell took home the Venue Manager of the Year Award.

Stewart McKinnon from The Barwon Heads Hotel, a venue also owned by Mr Taylor, was named this year’s Local Legend, an award that celebrates outstanding community service and achievement within the hospitality industry.

Matthew Connell from The Wharf Shed, Geelong was recognised for his efforts with the Venue Manager of the Year Award.


Mr McKinnon was recognised for his contributions to local charities, raising thousands of dollars through initiatives he organised himself.

“Stewart was inspirational in turning a very quiet public bar into a bustling little community,” Mr Taylor said.

“During our happy hour on a Friday night, his initiative was to create a raffle that raised money for different charities in the area. The majority were local charities, and he did all the work himself by collecting and paying for vouchers and goods and services from other business in Barwon Heads.

“He did a fantastic job in raising a lot of money for local charities, which I believe to be very important.”

Mr Taylor said it was “great” to see Mr McKinnon gain broader recognition for his efforts.

“It was an excellent thing for him, because he put so much work into it, and a great thing for the hotel and for our broader community to recognise that we are invested into the important charities and requirements going on in our area.”

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