‘Like a Little Chef for the 21st century’. Loungers group serves up new roadside restaurant brand

November 11, 2022

Loungers, the hugely successful Bristol-based national café-bar group, has launched a new restaurant brand which it says will “bring genuine hospitality” back to roadside dining.

The group, which operates 175 Lounges and 35 Cosy Club venues across the UK, said its Brightside brand would the reinvigorate a sector that it believes has become tired and uninspiring. 

In a fight back against the drive-thru and QSR (quick service restaurant) concepts that the group said have dominated the sector in recent years, Brightside will offer a freshly cooked menu full of classic, comfort food-style dishes – including an extensive brunch menu, burgers, pizzas, and kids’ menu – in what it described as nostalgic surroundings similar to the Little Chefs that were found on most A-roads across the UK before the arrival of fast-food outlets.

The outlets are aimed at appealing to a broad range of customers, including families, locals and UK holidaymakers.

Loungers has acquired three sites initially with the first set to open on the A38 south of Exeter next in February. Further sites will open on the A303 near Honiton and on the A38 near Saltash in the spring.

The group said it believes there is scope to develop a truly national brand and has ambitious plans to roll out Brightside to all corners of the UK in the coming years.

Loungers opened its first bar in Bristol in 2002 and expanded rapidly by opening a string of neighbourhood café-bars on busy suburban streets that attracted a wide variety of customers throughout the day and into the evening.

This approach, honed in Bristol suburbs such as Fishponds, Westbury-on-Trym and on Gloucester Road – where it found a ready market for its ‘home-from-home’, laid-back venues – has been repeated in towns and cities across the country. Its Cosy Club outlets were later added as city centre venues.

It said Brightside would share the same “core DNA” of the Lounge and Cosy Club brands – which it described as a focus on all-day dining to appeal to a broad audience, a fierce commitment to value for money, and run by teams that deliver exceptional service.

“Brightside roadside restaurants will be friendly, warm and wholesome and will endeavour to bring back the pleasure of heading out and exploring,” it said.

Loungers founder chairman Alex Reilley said: “We’ve had the itch for a while now to create a roadside restaurant concept that’s fit-for-purpose in the 21st century.

“For many people, the highlight of childhood road trips in days gone by was a stop at the likes of Little Chef.

“We believe there is a gap in the market for a fresh concept that gives customers the option to take a proper break and enjoy wholesome food and great hospitality, in a landscape that is currently dominated by drive-thru and QSR formats.”

He said Brightside would have a contemporary, welcoming and warm feel, while also evoking nostalgia for a time when motoring in the UK was a more exciting experience.

“We want it to be an integral part of our customers’ journey-planning, and something both adults and children alike look forward to,” he added.

“We believe that Brightside will really shake up what has become an uninspiring sector and that there is potential to roll out Brightside across the UK in the coming years.

“Our expertise in high-quality, great value all-day dining, developed through Lounge and Cosy Club, gives us confidence that Brightside can bring proper hospitality back to roadside dining across the UK.”

Loungers recently announced it was accelerating its site roll-out programme, targeting 30 new openings in the current financial year and between 32 and 34 on an ongoing basis.

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