Q & A with The Cove, Hope Cove

It’s one of the liveliest venues in the South Hams, the kind of establishment that tempts you in for a quiet pint at low tide then sends you on your merry way under a blanket of stars with the sounds of the latest headline act still pounding in your ears. I am of course talking about The Cove Café Bar, the buzzing seaside pub in the heart of Hope Cove where the hospitality and entertainment sits on par with the magnificent coastal views.

We sent along our very own wayfaring reporter, Mr Toad, to find out more about ‘The Cove’ and its winning formula courtesy of co-owner, connoisseur and impresario, Toby Robinson…


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Mr Toad:  The Cove has jet-propelled itself into one of the most happening venues in the South Hams – so what’s your secret?

Toby: Wouldn’t that be telling? Keep it simple, keep it real, don’t be scared to go for what you believe in. This is a heart-on-sleeve business, 100 percent, twenty-four-seven, and that is the key.

Mr Toad: What tempted you to set up a café and bar in Hope Cove?

Toby: It was simply the easiest way to give our son the life we wanted him to have. We’d fallen for Hope Cove – over the years spending more and more time here – so you could say that it all just kind of fell right for us. What we did have was a definitive plan, and then we just kept running with the ball.

Mr Toad: How important is live music to The Cove?

Toby: It’s the life and soul. If it wasn’t for the music I’d probably go nuts. 2018 has seen us bring in some top quality artists, the best our capacity allows us, from Beans on Toast to the likes of Samuel Jack and Land of the Giants. We’re always trying to shake it up and that’s what makes us the most consistent and original live music venue in the South Hams right now.

Mr Toad: How do you go about satisfying the needs of both locals and visitors?

Toby: We do what we do, and we do things our way. So, if you get ‘The Cove’, you’ll get it whether you live here or are just passing through. We are open every day, all year round, because that’s what we believe is the right thing to do for both the local and the wider community, not cut and run when you’ve cashed in on the summer. It’s a responsibility and we feel it. We’re here when you want us.


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Mr Toad: What’s the most popular dish on the menu?

Toby: Right now, our burgers are winning over the hearts and stomachs of everyone who eats them.

Mr Toad: Is it fair to say your bar has become a bit of an oasis for craft beers and real ales?

Toby: This year, winning the Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA) award for Best Craft Beer Bar in the UK was a big one for us. Bringing that title back to a place like Hope Cove is an achievement for sure. Honestly, these beers we serve in here are some of the best in the world at prices that remain extremely competitive in this style of market. Incredible beer in an incredible location is just an unbeatable combination, right?


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Mr Toad: Have you welcomed any famous punters?

Toby: The legend that is Gareth Southgate has been in, the legends that are Andy and Owen Farrell, the legend that is Louis Theroux, and the local legend that is George Breese.

Mr Toad: Do you reel in many wayfarers from the South West Coast Path?

Toby: Yes. And their dogs, who get a choice from their very own menu.

Mr Toad: What’s your view on the current plight of the pub trade in the West Country?

Toby: I guess you’ve just got to accept it’s a changing market, pretty much like debating the demise of the high street as it struggles to compete with online shopping. Evolution is evolution, and there is no point complaining about it. Get to the forefront, adapt, and go with the flow. One thing is for sure, bars will survive come what may, and in some shape or form. To me, they are more important than ever in today’s world of social media and retreat. Go out, meet real people, have a few beers and chill out. That’s why bars remain the best gathering points ever.

Mr Toad: Does every village need a pub?

Toby: Why not give them two?


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Mr Toad: What’s in store for The Cove in 2019?

I think the beauty of The Cove has been its evolution since we started out with just the ground floor and our living space above almost five years ago. People have enjoyed the transformation; our wonderful regulars have played a big part in moving the business forward and our success is testimony to that amazing support. For those on holiday, I think it’s now almost expected that something will have changed or improved on their next visit, and so far, we’ve always delivered on this. We’re always striving for more and we haven’t finished yet!

Mr Toad: And finally, what’s your favourite Hope Cove adage or saying?

Toby: It’s the hashtag we usually end a post with: #wearethecove.

A big thank you to Toby for giving us the lowdown on The Cove, and so encouraging to hear about yet another dynamic West Country venture making strides and defying the odds! We wish them even more success in 2019.

Fancy a South Devon escape? Toad Hall Cottages has a growing list of Hope Cove holiday cottages, all with their own character and charm.