The Victoria Inn in Salcombe is famed for their great fresh food, stunning sea views and, of course, their dog-friendly ethos. The South West regional winner in the 2016 Dog-Friendly Pub Awards earned their place at the top of their regional leaderboard with votes from fans, locals and visitors. There’s been even more to celebrate recently, too. Liz and Tim marked nine years at the helm of the Victoria Inn, a husband and wife team who have been dog lovers long before they owned one of dog-friendliest pubs in the country.
We caught up with Liz to chat about how excited the whole team was to come top in the South West and heard about how being officially named the best dog-friendly pub in the region has helped to spread the news about The Victoria Inn.
DogBuddy: What difference has winning this award made to your pub over the last year? Has it changed anything in your day to day experience of running the pub?
Liz Hore: Winning the DogBuddy regional award for the South West was amazing and has reinforced our approach to welcoming dogs to our award winning pub. We decided right from the beginning to change the business we took over. It was quite a formal pub and the previous landlord was really only interested in four course meals and selling bottles of wine. We turned it back into a pub first and a restaurant second. We’ve steadily rebuilt the food side of our business and we have won lots of awards, and we’re delighted to add the DogBuddy Dog-Friendly Pub Awards South West Regional Winner to our collection.
DB: What comments have visitors and regulars at the pub made about the dog-friendly plaque in your pub?
LH: The plaque is great for reassuring our visitors that we are truly dog-friendly and regulars have been delighted to see our efforts at welcoming four-legged friends to the Victoria Inn have been rewarded. Our fans and followers on Facebook and Twitter have also responded very well, and it’s been interesting to see the rise in engagement and comments when we’ve featured the Dog Buddy Dog-Friendly Pub Awards badge on our social media pages.
DB: Have you had more dogs and their owners visit the pub over the last year?
LH: Yes, I think we have. We have always had a good reputation for being dog-friendly and have always celebrated our love of seeing owners come in with their dogs. But winning the DogBuddy regional award gave us a credence we didn’t have before in being so dog-friendly.
DB: What do you put your success in last year’s awards down to?
LH: I think our success was down to always being welcoming to owners and their dogs. My husband Tim and I are both dog lovers and when the pub had a major refurbishment about three years ago we decided to let dogs in all of the pubs areas (not the kitchen – obviously!). Previously, dogs had only been allowed downstairs and in the garden. Our “A La Bark” dog menu has always been warmly welcomed but the fact we put all proceeds from that menu to the Hearing Dogs Charity gives dog owners an opportunity to know they’re giving to a great charity as well as buying a treat for their pooch. And we’ve donated more than £5,000 now, which is amazing!
DB: If you had any advice for pubs who fancy themselves in with a chance of winning this year, what would it be?
LH: In hospitality we should value each and every customer, but there is a huge opportunity with dog owners, particularly with the rise of the ‘staycation’. Do the little things that show you really value dog owners custom with the free biscuits, the towels, the blankets and yes, a special menu if you can – just for the four legged little ones!
DB: If there was anything you could do to make your pub even more dog-friendly, what would it be?
LH: The vast majority of our customers love the dog-welcoming attitude of our pub. When our fire is lit and there are dogs laying in front of it, happy punters with a pint and a newspaper – there’s no better sight!
I think we’ve done a lot to make our pub dog-friendly already, but we continually refresh and renew everything we offer for dogs. I’m always on the lookout for new dog products appropriate for the pub market, like the Snuffle Dog Beer for example.
DB: Have you got anything special planned to attempt to retain your title this year?
LH: Not specifically – we persist in valuing the dog-friendly market, and social media continues to play a large role in our continued promotion of our approach to dogs in the Victoria Inn.
That’s all from Liz and the team at the Victoria Inn. For now, we’re keeping our eyes fixed on the South West Leaderboard to see how this competition heats up.
Know a dog-friendly pub that deserves the title of Dog-friendly Pub of The Year? Make sure it gets your vote – simply search on DogBuddyPubs.com and give your favourite pooch-welcoming pub some love!