How a cafe in Robin Hood’s Bay became a top music venue

Tea, Toast and Post, a quirky cafe in Robin Hood's Bay, is quickly becoming a top music venue. Picture: Ceri Oakes
Tea, Toast and Post, a quirky cafe in Robin Hood's Bay, is quickly becoming a top music venue. Picture: Ceri Oakes
  • It is miles from the nearest arena, so how is a Robin Hood’s Bay cafe attracting some of music’s most rated singer songwriters? Sue Wilkinson finds out.
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In one of the streets that lead down to the beach in Robin Hood’s Bay there’s a cafe. It’s called Tea, Toast and Post and it serves up fish finger sandwiches in doorstep bread, homemade scones and some say the best coffee in town.

Based in the fishing village’s old Post Office it’s also making waves as a music venue. In the next few weeks it will see performances by a guitarist who has played with Paul Weller and Oasis and a New York record producer and songwriter, who can usually be usually found playing festivals in San Francisco.

The cafe is run by Luke and Sam Pearson – Luke does the cooking and front of house and Sam is the driving force in the background. According to Luke, it was Sam who decided to open the place and came up with the name and is now preparing to buy the premises.

“My wife is fantastic,” says Luke, who clearly knows which side his bread is buttered on. “She is in the background pulling the strings.”

The couple have been together six years and married in 2015, a month before they opened Tea Toast and Post. Its name reflects the fact it was the post office, which is the inspiration behind the menu.

“We go to a lot of festivals where there are vans selling tea and toast and making a fortune, a simple idea and good food,” says Luke, who admits that opening the cafe was also in part a way to keep him rooted in one place. While born in Whitby, he has previously worked in London as both a Sky salesman and a ceiling fitter as well as on oil rigs while based in Aberdeen.

It was their love of music that brought Sam – who also manages accommodation including gypsy caravans in the garden of their home in Fylingthorpe – and Luke together, and their passion is obvious.

A juke box – found in a garage in Sussex and refurbished in Leeds – is now part of the furniture in the cafe. Luke is a vocalist for various bands in the area, including sitting in with Steve Phillips at the Grosvenor in Robin Hood’s Bay, and their staff, including Kate Sidebottom, who makes and mends guitars, and Alfie Husband, a drummer, are also involved in music.

The monthly sessions at Tea Toast and Post have also been boosted by local musicians – including Eliza Carthy – who dropped by and while the atmosphere is laidback the venue’s reputation is spreading.

Already booked in for this month is Matt Deighton who was part of the acid jazz movement in the 1980s before providing guitars for both Weller and Oasis after Noel Gallagher quit the band mid-tour. Since the mid-1990s he’s been operating as a solo musician and has to date released six critically acclaimed solo albums.

After that comes another coup with New Yorker Simone Felice heading to the Yorkshire coast. Felice is never short of a story or two. When he was just 12 he suffered a brain aneurysm and was pronounced clinically dead for several minutes. Following emergency surgery he spent two months in intensive care and had to learn how to read and write again. However, just three years later he had formed his first punk band and was playing fabled venues like New York’s CBGBs.

Things haven’t mellowed much since. Six years ago Felice, who recently helped produce and co-write Bat For Lashes’ latest album, had to have open heart surgery for a defect he has been living with since a child. However, those near death experiences all fed into his self-titled debut solo album which won rave reviews.

“Matt was lured to the pub by Sam,” says Luke. “We got in from the pub one night and I put on his album. I must have said: ‘I’d love to book him but he seldom tours’. The next thing Sam had messaged him and he agreed to do two nights. I am not sure where it will go, but we just want to give locals the chance to hear contemporary music on their doorstep.”

• Matt Deighton, September 30 and October 1; Simone Felice, October 28-29. Tickets via Facebook and include a tapas-style meal.