The Post • Luke Culkin


name and when we were decorat- ing we took the old sign off and found the sign behind it called The Winking Prawn. It fitted the café perfectly. ‘The building has pretty much

stayed the same over the years. At the beginning it was much quieter. We’d do 20 lunches and think it was busy. Now we’re doing hundreds of lunches and barbecues daily.’ On their busiest day at The Wink-

ing Prawn this year they served 120 breakfasts, 378 lunches, 228 barbecues and 112 dinners, as well as numerous teas, coffees, cakes and ice creams. Luke added: ‘When you say a seaside beach café people’s expec- tations and vision of it aren’t the same. The Winking Prawn is a busy and thriving restaurant, and hard work at times. ‘But it’s always friendly and laid-

back, with its shabby chic interiors, seaside-y vibe and the famous fancy dress box ‘A lot of people have got very

fond memories of The Winking Prawn. I was 15 years old when we first opened and people my age are now bringing their children in. ‘We’ve seen four generations of

people growing up here enjoying a lunch or dinner together.’ It’s even had a few celebrities popping by, and Jenny Bond is quite a regular. And down in Polzeath this summer BBC Radio 2 DJ Chris Evans and celebrity chef Gordon Ramsey dined out at The Cracking Crab. David Cameron also tucked into a dinner there, while his wife Samantha apparently got into the spirit of things with the dressing up box. With business booming at The

Winking Prawn the family bought Island Street Bar and Grill in 2010. They developed it on trend, with signature steaks, ribs and sharing boards, along with regular live music. Then Sailor V (‘mum came up with that name’) was created, with a relaxed ‘speakeasy’ vibe and delicious smoothies. And finally The Cracking Crab opened, exporting The Winking Prawn winning formu- la to Polzeath in Cornwall. Luke said: ‘The seasons are getting busier and Salcombe is constantly evolving and changing, with new businesses opening up and expanding all the time. All the coverage the town gets on the media too add to its attraction as

a popular holiday and property- buying destination. ‘In the low season we employ 50 staff across the four places. In the high season that goes up to around 150.’ Luke’s said his favourite dish is

the Dover sole and the buckets of king prawns, served at The Winking Prawn and The Cracking Crab. When at the bar and grill he’s partial to the ribs. Away from the businesses Luke

is very involved in Salcombe life, partaking in water sports including previously teaching wake boarding and doing powerboat rides, and is still a member of the town’s football team. He took a break from the catering

trade and joined the Royal Navy for five years, based in Plymouth and stationed in the Middle East. He added: ‘During my time off

and leave I would come home to Salcombe and end up in the kitchen. ‘Salcombe’s the best and it’s great

to be with all my family here. ‘And at Christmas when we’ll all

be together while dad cooks the roast Christmas dinner, and mum makes a good trifle and Christmas pudding.’•

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