A seafront café in West Bay has re-opened under new management to "overwhelming" customer praise. 

The West Beach Café Bar on the Esplanade has been taken over by Dorchester couple Belle and Stephen McGonigle.

The café initially shut in April after the previous tenant had to pull out unexpectedly due to ill health but re-opened its doors on Bank Holiday Monday. 

The decision to take over the café came from Belle McGonigle’s desire to pursue her passion for cooking which has stemmed from childhood.

While she currently lives in Dorchester, Belle is originally from the Philippines and grew up with freshly sourced produce and seafood.

Bridport and Lyme Regis News: West Beach Cafe Bar with new managers Belle and Stephen McGonigleWest Beach Cafe Bar with new managers Belle and Stephen McGonigle (Image: West Beach Cafe Bar)

When she came to the UK after meeting her husband, Belle decided to pursue a culinary based career following years in accountancy and began to work part time in the kitchens of an NHS hospital.

She said: “I decided its time for me follow my dream and have my own place. I saw this post on Facebook asking if someone could take over a café on West Bay and I took the opportunity."

Belle has felt “overwhelmed” and “touched” by the positive feedback so far and hopes to put her café on the map as a welcoming place for locals. 

Bridport and Lyme Regis News: West Beach Cafe Bar MenuWest Beach Cafe Bar Menu (Image: Stephen McGonigle)

Belle added: “We were so amazed by the local response. Everyone was really supportive. Some said it was the best seafood they had in West Bay." 

While it still offers homemade cakes and desserts, the menu now has a focus on sushi dishes, seafood and offers fresh sourdough bread made daily. 

When asked if she was nervous for this latest business venture, Belle said she was more excited at finally getting to explore with her cooking, incorporating elements of her own culture into the menu.

“I am very excited because I get loads of different ideas with different ideas and I would like people in the region to like it. I’m excited to see what I can serve even thought it will be to Western tastes and add my own flare and twists to make it something like from home.

“I really love sea food and grew up with it in the Philippines as we lived by the sea. I wanted to support local businesses and it’s very sustainable. Everything I serve on the menu will be something freshly cooked.”

Mr and Mrs McGonigle were handed the keys by owners Tracey and William Jovanovic, who also run Westpoint Apartments in West Bay.

Bridport and Lyme Regis News: Tracey and William Jovanovic Picture: Sam RoseTracey and William Jovanovic Picture: Sam Rose

The café was originally a holiday apartment before the couple were inspired by local residents to transform the business in 2019 to pay tribute to an old pub which used to be at the site. 

READ MORE: West Beach Café has opened in West Bay

Tracey said “We feel excited about the season ahead as everything we have seen so far from Belle looks fabulous. She has an elegance and creative flair and we cannot wait to see locals and visitors to the area marvelling at her menu. As well as enjoying it ourselves.”