A seemingly forgotten Burger King on the route to the West Country.
Short stay customer parking is available for cars. No HGV parking is available.
This information is provided to us by third parties. You should always check with staff on site.
🌍 Operators (Official Websites):
Trivia and Design
The A303 has several signposted 'local facilities', including some signed from the opposite side of the roundabout.
The service area is located on the A358, but not the major road that leads to Taunton - that is a fourth (of five) exit from this roundabout. The roundabout is called 'Southfields' (nicknamed 'Horton Cross'), but 'Ilminster' is the name promoted by the facilities.
The site is one of few A-road services to have motorway-style 'Tiredness Can Kill' signs on each approach to it, suggesting there is a history of fatigue-related problems here.
The service area opened in 1989 with a Shell filling station, Happy Eater restaurant and Travelodge hotel. The restaurant is positioned in the corner right next to the roundabout, while the forecourt is higher up, closer to the entrance.
The restaurant became the Ilminster branch of Little Chef in 1996, opening along with a Burger King franchise. Although it was never formally designated a 'blue' Little Chef, where it would have been marketed towards evening diners, there was some evidence of blue branding, pointing towards either a mistake or a rethink. The restaurant later became a Little Chef Choices site in 2002, which saw it gain a Harry Ramsden's and Caffè Ritazza. These were removed and Coffee Tempo! joined instead. Another thorough refurbishment of the site was given in 2012, where the site gained a Good to Go counter.
As one of the more profitable sites, the restaurant lasted until January 2018 when the new owners' rights to the name expired. The signs were taken down and the restaurant continued as EG Diner.
The EG Diner closed on 31 October 2018 and it was thought at the time that the Burger King would close too so that work could commence on redeveloping the building into a KFC Drive Thru which was expected to open in January 2019. However, the Burger King stayed trading beyond this date and became the only trading unit in the building with the former restaurant area being closed off and laying empty.
Due to difficulties with Euro Garages changing the trading class on the building from A3 to A3/A5 and amendments to the original site plan for the new KFC Drive Thru, in September 2019 the redevelopment plans were scrapped. New site plans and trade class change were approved in July 2019.
The main building was supposed to undergo refurbishment in October 2019 but this was delayed, and Burger King closed on 22 December 2019 in order to commence work. The site partially reopened on 26 May 2020 with only a new Burger King Drive Thru opening due to coronavirus social distancing restrictions. A Sainsbury's On the go store later opened on 4 July 2020 following further easing of coronavirus lockdown restrictions with a Greggs store later following at the end of July 2020. The Sainsbury's On the go store was rebranded to Spar in 2021.
Hort Bridge Plans
Since 2004, there have been numerous efforts to develop the land on the opposite side of the roundabout to Ilminster services. This has previously included large developments with houses, restaurants and petrol stations, known as Hort Bridge.
That plan is currently on hold, but land immediately adjacent to the roundabout has been turned into Southfields Enterprise Park. In 2020, a Costa Drive Thru opened, which will rival the facilities in the main services (and arguably be easier to access for westbound traffic).
|Stoke-sub-Hamdon (westbound, 9 miles)|
Cartgate picnic area (10 miles)
Townsend (eastbound, 11 miles)
|Services on the A303||Exeter (M5 south via Honiton, 31 miles)|
Taunton Deane (M5 south via Taunton, 14 miles)
Bridgwater (M5 north, 16 miles)
|Podimore (11 miles)||Euro Garages services||Sourton Cross (A30, 61 miles)|