THE FOUNDERS of a successful business venture which expanded across the UK after beginning in Bridport have taken on a brand new project.

Nikki and Richard Cooper, who founded the Stable chain of restaurants, have bought the Bay restaurant in Lyme Regis.

And they are well on the way to reopening it as what’s anticipated to be the first in a new chain of beach café bars called SWiM.

The couple sold 51 per cent of the Stable to national brewery chain Fullers in 2014 and Mr Cooper said they are selling their final stake of the business in March, so they can concentrate on their new venture.

SWiM is expected to open in the second week of March, 

in time for Easter, and the couple have high ambitions, aiming to make it the best chain of bars in the south west.

Mr Cooper said he is keen to open a second SWiM in Weymouth, which was the first town the Stable expanded to after it was first launched in Bridport.

Explaining the concept behind SWiM – which has much of the same original team on board as the Stable – Mr Cooper said: “It’s going to be the kind of place you can come into with sand on your feet, get a great bite to eat at a reasonable price, and share a cocktail or craft beer with friends.”

The ethos of using local suppliers that worked so well for the Stable will also be key to SWiM, he added.

“A lot of the inspiration will come from the locality, being close to the sea and we will have a great range of seafood. 

“There will be live music. Hopefully, it will be the best bar in the south west.

“I hope it will be a place where all ages will meet to have a coffee or a drink and enjoy our amazing view.”

With work still to be done, the team are putting in every effort to renovate the Marine Parade restaurant. 

The new owners are investing heavily into the council-owned property, with planning permission submitted to rip out the ceiling to maximise the expansive void above and install new floor to ceiling glazing to make the most of the views over the world famous coastline. 

The entire place will be completely gutted and rebuilt with attention paid to all the design elements.

But the pair are adamant that Lyme Regis is the best place for their new venture.

Mrs Cooper said: “We fell in love with Lyme Regis when we moved to Dorset 15 years ago, we were lucky enough to build our family home here last year.”

Mr Cooper said he ‘never had any idea’ that the Stable would grow to be as successful as it has become, with 17 restaurants, including those in London and Birmingham.

“We want to keep the coastal element when with SWiM,” he added. “We are certainly looking at a lot of options, such as Cornwall, and we would love to open in Weymouth, as that was where our second Stable opened and it was a great success.

“It’s the kind of place I would like to go and hang out with my friends, and that’s really important.”