The founders of a hugely successful restaurant chain which started right here in Bridport have set their sights on a new project.

Nikki and Richard Cooper, who founded the Stable chain of restaurants and most recently launched SWiM in Lyme Regis, have bought the iconic Riverside Restaurant in West Bay.

The couple, who previously owned The Bull Hotel in Bridport and kick-started the the Stable chain of pizza and cider restaurants at the rear of The Bull, hope to open the new-look restaurant in Autumn after a significant refurbishment, creating up to 40 jobs.

It comes just a few months after they opened SWiM café and bar on the beach in Lyme, a venture Mrs Cooper says has been 'absolutely crazy' in its popularity.

Alongside the Coopers in the new restaurant concept is Andy Briggs, also founder of the Stable restaurants, and Kyle Clarke who grew up in Bridport and worked closely with the couple and Andy on the Stable concept.

Mrs Cooper said: "We are so delighted to be presented with this wonderful opportunity to purchase the Riverside. It is a restaurant that we have frequently regularly in the past 15 years with our family and friends and we have dozens of happy memories in the stunning location."

The new concept, says Mrs Cooper, will be similar to SWiM but with an emphasis on seafood. Open all year-round, it will have the same casual dining feel SWiM does, with cocktails and craft beers.

"It will be refurbished to look totally different but want to maintain the longstanding clientele," said Mrs Cooper. "Local trade is important to us. West Bay is an incredibly popular seaside location along the Dorset coast and we have been going to the restaurant for the past 15 years. We always take our family and friends there and are so well looked after by Arthur and Chili - it's always had a fabulous reputation. It's very, very well-known along the south coast, and we have got a lot to live up to, but we are confident. We know how to run restaurants.

Mr Cooper added: “Following in Arthur Watson and Neil Chilcotts' footsteps will be a hard act to follow. The Riverside has enjoyed a phenomenal reputation for decades and we hope that we can maintain this and be as much-loved as they were."