A small café in Brixham, South Devon, has won the 2020 Devon Tourism Award for best café of the year.
On winning the award, owner Chloe Pavely, said: “In all honesty I’m shocked and surprised ‘cause I just honestly didn’t think we’d win. I’m pretty excited about it and excited for the year to come as a result of winning.”
2020 was an extremely difficult year for the hospitality industry, with many businesses struggling to adapt and juggle with the continual closing and reopening of their establishments throughout the pandemic.
During the first lockdown, Chloe decided it was best to close her café for the foreseeable – despite such venues being allowed to remain open for takeaways only, and made the decision to close until June.
When restrictions were eased and the café finally opened again, Chloe and her staff began providing takeaways for the local community. Friday’s were an extra special day, as Chloe and her sister would make burgers to be enjoyed by people visiting the beach.
Recalling this change, Chloe said: “We wanted to do something new and adapt, but still create a sense of normality for people, so on Friday’s we had burger nights with a vegan option too. Instead of people having to pre-order or book, they could come down as and when they wanted and there was a lot of space so people could be safe.”
The beach café was also in the news last year for another reason.
After the local council announced it would be closing the toilet block at Fishcombe Cove and stopping rubbish collections, Chloe and her sister, Emilia, decided they would volunteer to reopen and service the toilets themselves.
The two sisters launched an online fundraiser to raise enough money to buy cleaning supplies and loo rolls for the public toilets, and were overblown by the generosity shown by the local community. The fundraiser, aptly named the ‘Spend a Penny’ project, raised nearly £900 in less than 24 hours.
The café also launched their own fundraising activities, such as bingo on the beach and a fancy dress event.
Chloe said: “It’s actually been overwhelming the way people have given and volunteered. It makes me feel so blessed to live in a place with such a great community spirit.”
“Everyone from locals, to visitors, to people across the world (literally) sent donations. Local businesses donated cleaning products, materials to help. I think ‘wow’, that’s incredible – it’s not about businesses competing, it’s about us all collaborating to improve this beautiful place. That’s so powerful.”
Fishcombe Cove is extremely popular with the locals, as well as tourists.
The café has only been open three years and has already made a wonderful impact on Torbay’s thriving community. It is planning to reopen again just in time for Easter, with a limited menu available.