'Best cafe' awards cop criticism

LEWIS JONES AND GORDON KILKERR
Last updated 05:00 03/12/2012

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The owners of two award-winning Southland cafes think too many industry awards may be confusing customers.

The Batch co-owners Kate French and Gareth Hamilton said the number of best cafe awards in the industry could be confusing for customers.

"I think it causes customer confusion when there are awards plastered over every cafe," Mr Hamilton said.

The "best cafe" award the Invercargill cafe won in September is from Hospitality New Zealand (HANZ).

There are several different industry awards, all judged on different criteria.

Ms French said the response to the award from the public and regulars had been excellent, but it was unclear whether winning the award had impacted on the business at this early stage.

Pat Gilder, of Riverton's Mrs Clark's Cafe, also said there were too many awards, many of which "had just popped out of the woodwork recently".

In October they picked up best cafe in the 2012-13 New Zealand Best Cafe Awards announced by Cafe magazine.

The award his cafe won had been running for 14 years and had very strict guidelines, he said.

This made it different from awards like the Heinz Wattie's Award which concentrated on the use of their products and was more of a marketing tool, he said.

The HANZ award could only be won by members of the association, Mr Gilder said.

Southern Institute of Technology head of hospitality Glenn Stridiron said awards for best cafe were becoming quite common.

He believed awards should be anonymous and reliant on merit, open to everyone, and not the result of a firm buying into the right to be entered for a competition.

Lewis Jones and Gordon Kilkerr are SIT journalism students

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