A seemingly forgotten Burger King on the route to the West Country.
🌍 Operators (Official Websites):
Trivia and Design
The A303 has several signposted 'local facilities', including some signed from the opposite side of the roundabout.
It 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.
It 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.
It opened in 1989 as a Happy Eater. The restaurant is positioned in the corner right next to the roundabout, while the forecourt is higher up, closer to the entrance.
This restaurant became a Little Chef and Burger King in 1996. In 2002 it was promoted to Little Chef Choices, which saw it gain a Harry Ramsden's and Caffe Ritazza. These were removed and Coffee Tempo! joined instead.
In 2012, the restaurant was one of several to receive a thorough refurbishment, gaining a Good to Go in the process. As one of the more profitable sites it 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 Future of Ilminster
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.
In September 2019, it emerged that 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 that the previous opening dates and redevelopment plans were scrapped. New site plans and trade class change were approved in July 2019.
The services were supposed to undergo refurbishment in October 2019 and reopen with a Burger King Drive Thru, Greggs and Sainsbury's On the go. 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 the Burger King Drive Thru opening due to coronavirus social distancing restrictions. The Sainsbury’s store later opened on 4 July 2020 following further easing of coronavirus lockdown restrictions with the Greggs store later following at the end of July 2020.
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, work started on a drive thru Costa, 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)|