Wollongong can lay claim to having Australia’s favourite restaurant.
Lagoon Seafood Restaurant, run by the Harrison family, was named overall winner in the I Love Food Awards on Friday.
The win is significant for the city because the annual vote conducted by Foxtel’s LifeStyle Food Channel is recognised as Australia’s biggest people’s choice restaurant awards.
The Lagoon Seafood Restaurant was named both Australia’s Favourite Overall Restaurant and Australia’s Favourite Fine Dining Restaurant.
Foxtel runs the competition to reveal and celebrate the nation’s favourite places to eat out as chosen by the Australian public.
The LifeStyle Food Channel is now sending a crew to Wollongong in coming days to film an episode at Australia’s favourite restaurant.
‘This is a people’s choice award so we are very grateful to everyone.'
The Harrison family was quick to thank loyal customers and supporters.
Marketing manager Jonni Nicolaou said it did not get any bigger than the I Love Food Awards run every two years.
Mrs Nicolaou said the Wollongong restaurant was competing with restaurants in every major city.
‘‘I think it is because we are a popular tourism restaurant and we had people voting from all over the state and Australia,’’ she said.
‘‘For us to win this is incredible. And they only count one vote per person.’’
Proprietor Andrew Harrison was particularly happy about what the national recognition meant for Wollongong and the 100 local people the restaurant employed.
‘‘They will put this in their magazine as well,’’ he said.
Mr Harrison said restaurants could not nominate themselves.
Only customers could.
He said the best endorsement you could get in the hospitality industry was being recognised by your customers and having them want to keep coming back because they liked the food and experience so much.
‘‘This is a people’s choice award so we are very grateful to everyone,’’ he said.
Foxtel’s LifeStyle Food Channel described the seaside eatery in Stuart Park as featuring a world class a-la-carte menu and the freshest seafood, a wine for every palate and occasion, elegant dining, unsurpassed service and a waterfront view that was simply breathtaking.
The restaurant in its present format opened in 2004 but the original Lagoon Seafood Restaurant opened in 1986.
‘‘Our staff are so friendly people just want to come back,’’ Mrs Nicolaou said.