The name will not mean a lot to some perhaps, but for Chris Unwin and many others who made the journey across Telegraph Hill on the A38 in the late 60’s and early 70’s, the charming tramp was a legend. Whatever the weather he was there, at the side of the layby, face blackened by his seemingly never extinguished fire. The Unwin family, on their way west from London for their holidays, were among the many who would leave food for Joe and were sad to learn of his premature demise (he was in his early fifties) in 1975.
Having run bars and clubs around the country for many years, and latterly in Exeter, Chris took over the Cider Press in 2002 and opened Smokey Joe’s alongside it, in October 2003. Sporting a massive, especially commissioned, painting of Smokey Joe at one end, the bar is delightful mix of recycled bits and pieces in wood and metal, including a collection of cooper’s tools from the Heavitree Brewery.