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23


Luke Culkin


L


uke Culkin is part of The Winking Prawn Group family. The group, which


started life at the popular beach café overlooking Salcombe’s North Sands, now has a quartet of thriving businesses – The Winking Prawn, Island Street Bar and Grill, and Sailor V in the town; and The Cracking Crab in Polzeath. Luke is the son of business


founders Mark and Jane. He works alongside his parents, sister Lucy and cousin Laurence, who moved over from Ireland to join them. He said: ‘We all work togeth- er as a family group and run all four premises as a collective. Everything about the business is done between ourselves and our great team of staff, including the managing, advertising, marketing, recruitment and training. ‘We’re a very close-knit family and all get on really well. It’s great, I wouldn’t change it for the world. We all love food and are always open to new things.


‘I’ve been brought up in the res-


taurant industry and was washing up in the kitchens at aged 14. I then started cooking and went on from there.’ Luke is head chef at the latest addition to the business, The Cracking Crab at Polzeath, during the peak summer season


‘It grew and grew over the years, and got so busy it just took over”


He said: ‘I’m down there all the time during the summer and then back in Salcombe for the winter at the other sites. ‘The Cracking Crab opened


around three years ago, on the cliff top overlooking the water at Polzeath. It’s a direct spin off of The Winking Prawn, serving buckets of seafood, including lots of crab of course, and steaks from the grill. It has the same laidback vibe, com-


plete with a fancy dress box and a great sundeck too.’ The Winking Prawn started life with the Culkins 20 years ago when Luke’s parents, Mark and Jane, spotted the premises in its idyllic location. ‘They originally opened The


Winking Prawn as a seasonal busi- ness when we were all still based in Poole, where my parents had estab- lished restaurants,’ added Luke. ‘It grew and grew over the years, and got so busy it just took over. ‘Around ten years ago, when I


was 24, we all moved down, with Merlin our bearded collie dog too, because Salcombe is such a lovely place to live. ‘The premises were called Oasis


Beach Café when we took it over 20 years ago. ‘We’d been trying to think of a


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