Golden Owl Awards – Uniting Hospitality’s Finest

By on November 1, 2016


Scouting the flavours of Vancouver’s nightlife is an art in itself. From the traveller bars at the Cambie to the posh clubs in Yaletown, the search for a good time can feel evasive. For us, searching for a place to have a good time? Well, it’s the reason our company came to be. After an inspiring trip to Barcelona, our founder decided to return to Vancouver and help make our city more connected through good food and drinks. Today, new groups are forming to celebrate the spaces that  delight us day after day with drinks, food, music, dance, events, and of course – their personalities. One of those groups came together to create an awards ceremony unlike any other.

In 2004, Joel Weinmaster, founder of Club Vibes, got together with some industry veterans to celebrate the players that make Vancouver nightlife shine. Thus, the Vancouver Nightlife Awards were born. Eleven years later, he’s joined forces with Carissa Campeotto, founder of Commodity Juicery, to help him produce and market the event. Together with Barry Rabold, owner of Smiths Pub and Argyle Attic, and Tyson Villeneuve, co-founder of The Social Concierge, they redesigned VNA to encompass a wider spectrum of entertainers and businesses – from indie to corporate, restaurant to concert hall. The brand emerged under a new title: The Golden Owl.

“Everything that’s serving guests from happy hour until 2 am is game,” Carissa explained.

We sat down with her for an inside look into the awards, and how they’ve changed this year.


Vancouver Nightlife Awards: The Evolution

How did you get involved in this project?

“Joel and I became friends when I was working at Donnelly Group. Around that time, we were both transitioning out of nightlife, but still had a passion to work on a hospitality project. We wanted to create something that showed the diversity in Vancouver’s hospitality, with nightlife as a focus. Together with the help of Barry and Tyson we came up with The Golden Owl Hospitality Awards.”

What makes this event unique?

“At the moment, award ceremonies in hospitality are quite siloed. There are restaurant awards, hotel awards, craft beer festivals, and so on – but nothing brings all these players into one space.  But we believe this whole industry should be working and supporting each other – it’s a healthy ecosystem. There are certain things corporate places do exceptionally well, such as their operations and seasonal menus, but they don’t have the same flexibility to innovate as the independents. There are strengths and advantages to both businesses – one is not better than the other. They both attract talented people and pose their own challenges, but there’s no reason to think one is better than the other. Both sides deserve respect from one another – Golden Owl is creating a bridge to get everyone in the room celebrating each other.”

Tell us about the evolution of VNA to GOA.

“When we reassessed the future of the VNA, we decided to put more emphasis on experience, and focus less on nightlife. We took out categories like best promoter, or best DJ, and replaced them with categories like best food or cocktail experience. We want to celebrate the biggest risk takers in the industry, and added concert venues to the roster. Events are massive productions, so why not celebrate the spaces and people that create these experiences?”

Fairmont1 - Mediterranean Negroni by Bartender Grant Sceney

(pictured above: cocktails at Juniper)

Tell us about the nomination process. You have a curated panel of influencers and votes from the public. How does that work?

“We’ve curated the nominees from a massive shortlist, designed from consulting with influencers in the industry. We’re opening voting to the public, with their votes weighing for 40% of the vote. Our panel’s vote will have 60% of the weight. We’ve pulled together a panel with Vancouver’s top entertainment influencers, from a range of industries – it spans from PR to events producers. We were meticulous in picking these nominees – if you’re selected, it’s because you’re a true innovator in the industry. You’re influencing cocktail and food trends, you’re an entertainer – you have true influence.”

Who can we expect at the awards?

“Our awards bring together everyone who is actively on the ground and on the cutting edge in the industry. We are inviting players from digital media to attend, as they’re the most in tune with current trends and digital media is the way young people are finding places to go. We embrace that wholeheartedly. We’re focused on working with digital media, which is more progressive in nature. This allows us the freedom to invite players from all spectrums of entertainment – including the more alternative forms.”


(pictured above: Sabrine Dhaliwal, UVA Wine Bar Manager & Belvedere Ambassador) 

What do you envision for the future of Golden Owl?

“We believe this project has massive potential to grow in the coming years. We’d like to see awards grow outside of Vancouver across all of Canada, and eventually into the United States. With regards to the ceremony itself, we’ll continue adding categories as the hospitality industry expands.”

Ceremony Reception – Open to All

Want to join in? We’re thrilled to announce that this year’s reception will be open to the public. It will be held following the ceremony at 9 pm at a secret location. Come take part of the experience and rub shoulders with the best in the industry.

Reserve a spot at

We’re thrilled to have our founder, Paul Davidescu, join the panel of judges. To celebrate GOA, we will be offering two lucky followers seats the exclusive Gold Lounge at the GOA reception. To win, comment on one of our GOA posts on Instagram with the name of your favourite nominee. Winners will be announced November 7, with location details disclosed that same day.

Voting for the awards is closed as of October 30. All winners to be announced November 7, 2016.

Cover image: Tommy Grier, Head Bartender, Republic