LAST month, the Middle Korumburra Hotel won the people’s choice award for best venue at the Australian Hotels Association State Awards for Excellence.

As it is a people’s choice award, the winner is solely determined by a public vote.

To be voted the best venue by customers and the community is something co-owner Ben Fisher, commonly known as Fish, is very proud of.

“It’s great to have people want to vote for you, it’s awesome that a few customers and the community got behind us,” Fish said.

“Obviously the staff had a bit of a crack (at voting), but it’s a good thing for everyone.

“Getting voted the best pub in the whole state is pretty cool.”

Since taking over the pub in June 2019, Fish, his partner Elyse and his staff of 30 have been hit with one of the biggest hurdles in hospitality history.

But the hospitality shutdown in 2020 gave them the time to complete projects like the back deck, and re-fitting the back room to get more seating in the bistro.

When Fish took over, he also introduced table service at pub prices to try to make sure the customers had a better overall experience.

“We want to focus on the customer and make sure they’re having a good time.”

But the biggest game changer has been the introduction of their takeaway/delivery service.

They deliver all over South Gippsland from Leongatha, to Nyora or to Kongwak.

“We bring the pub to you,” Fish said.

“It’s pretty cool especially for people who live in places like Nyora, where you can get a parma delivered to your shed while you’re watching the footy.”

Aside from the obvious support they received to help them win the people’s choice award, Fish said the community feedback had been great so far, even with the difficulties they’ve faced with the pandemic.

“It’s been tough with restrictions but so far so good.”

One of the people who have helped the community affection grow for the Middle is head chef Mark Smith.

Mark first came across to the pub from the Inverloch RACV Resort in March last year, right before lockdowns ravaged the industry.

But the work he’s done since then saw him recognised as a finalist for Chef of the Year at the AHA Awards.

And that wasn’t where the finalists finished at the Middle.

In the event held at the Crown Palladium, they were recognised as a finalist for Best Outdoor Experience, Best Presented Beer, Best Pub Bar, Best Sports Bar, Best Gaming Venue (50 machines or less) and Best Keno Venue which they also won.

The entire team was wrapped to be finalists for so many categories but they’re most happy with the sense that they now feel truly entrenched in the town.

“We just want to be the heart of the community,” Fish said.

“We really want to be involved with the community and make it a community hub.

“We want to make sure it’s a really good experience from when you walk in the door to when you walk out.”

Something that helps the pub do that is the countless charity fundraisers they either run or host.

“We love helping people and getting people out and about.”

When reflecting on the last two years, Fish thanked the community for their continued support and his excellent staff for the job they do.

To learn more about the Middle Korumburra Hotel, head to their Facebook page, or their website