Northumberland pub owners' pride at being named best in the North East
A Northumberland pub is celebrating being named the best in the region at the North East Tourism Awards.
The Apple Inn, at Lucker, beat off stiff competition to win the gold award ahead of the likes of The Angel of Corbridge, Twice Brewed Inn, at Bardon Mill, and The Botanist, in Newcastle.
It is a timely panacea for the pub, which won the same award in 2017, as it is currently closed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Johny Johnson, who runs the Apple Inn and nearby Apple Core with his wife, Lauren, said: “Stablewood Leisure and the Johnson family are very proud to win the Northumberland pub of the year for the second time.
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“In a way, it was even better this time because it was a blind visit by someone who booked a room, stayed the night and had a meal and then told us when he left that he was part of Secret Diner.”
Judge Ivor Stolliday, chairman of Visit County Durham, remarked: “Competition is always very fierce and the quality is very high and all our shortlisted candidates were terrific but we do have a clear winner and that is The Apple Inn at Lucker where I found that the service and standards were exceptional. Everything was perfect.
“I hate to use the cliche, as they do on property programmes, where they say it’s ticked every box but it did and it’s a good winner.”
The increased profile that the award will bring is welcome news for the business as it faces an uncertain few weeks and months ahead.
“The awards are a really important way for us, as a small family business, to let people know just what we offer to people visiting Northumberland,” said Johny.
“We are very proud that the award specifically referenced the high quality of food and service provided by our kitchen and front of house staff.
“We don’t know when the pub, or The Apple Core, will reopen. It’s just a waiting game until the time is right but in the meantime this award in good recognition for us.”
The Apple Core will be getting refurbished when restrictions are lifted to turn it into an Italian themed restaurant and wedding venue.
“We’re hoping Stablewood Coastal Cottages will be able to open fairly soon,” added Johny.
“The Apple Inn & Apple Core are a key part of the offering to locals and guests who want to simply pop in for a meal or for those who have more time when staying with Stablewood Coastal Cottages.”
The family business also involves Daniel and Aimee Johnson who run the nearby Beau Monde five-star spa facility.
Stablewood was set up in 2011 by mum Tina Johnson, who heads the company.
She is hopeful both the loyal guests who have supported the business since it started and new guests attracted by the publicity of the awards will help the Northumberland leisure industry get back on its feet post-lockdown.