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By Narelle Coulter

STUMBLING into a pub with no beer insn’t something drinkers in the Casey Cardinia region need fear.
The region’s hotels are well stocked with ale, spirits and wine, and many of them are increasinly offering menus that extend well beyond parma and chips.
The quality and professionalism of the region’s hotels was highlighted at this year’s Australian Hotels Association state awards for excellence.
Beaconsfield’s Cardinia Park Hotel won the regional hotel of the year title and Zagame’s Berwick took out the title of metropolitan hotel of the year.
Zagame’s Berwick also won the award for best metropolitan sports bar and the Cardinia Park Hotel won best regional bistro.
Another region winner was Kelly’s Motor Club Hotel Cranbourne which was recognised for outstanding achievement in training.
Frank Deegan, owner of the Cardinia Park Hotel, attributed the win to “customer service and attention to detail”.
“Cardinia Park Hotel is a pretty place, it’s a boutique-y kind of pub if you like. Our customers are sensational. They have really embraced the hotel since the renovation.”
Mr Deegan purchased the hotel five years ago and instigated major renovations to the 1870s hotel 18 months ago.
“We are really focused on food. We also won best bistro which is a real credit to the chefs and front-of-house people.”
Mr Deegan’s three sons also work in the business, which encompasses several hotels in the region.
Son Francis runs Cardinia Park, another son Patrick is in charge at the Central Hotel and third son Fred is the group’s accountant.
In their comments the judges praised Cardinia Parks “lovely decor, stylish bistro room with multiple rooms and fireplaces“.
“We thought the venue had a great ambience throughout and was also nice and warm,” the judges wrote.
“This is a lovely bistro room with charming ambience. It was very well patronised on a Thursday afternoon. The food was very nice and well-presented. The staff were well-trained and extremely pleasant.”
At Zagames, the sports bar particularly impressed the judges.
“The range of screens in this sports bar was amazing,” the judges wrote.
“Some really big screens, and we thought the range of seating options was excellent. The staff were working hard to keep patrons being served quickly. There was also a staff member walking around trying to keep the room tidy, which was a big job as there were many patrons in attendance.
“The venue is very well-presented inside and out. It is a very large dining room, but is fitted out to still feel cosy and comfortable, and also not too noisy, even with so many people there.”

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