He who dares wins, as Del Boy would say, and for sixty years the Lockside café had a winning formula. It first opened all the way back in 1963 as a transport café and changed names a few times over the years. Previously it was known as The Venturers Rest and later Popeyes Diner, before eventually becoming Lockside. But it remained an institution in Bristol no matter its name. Unfortunately, the waterfront café has now closed due to the owners decision to retire, with the windows shuttered and a For Lease sign already outside the building.
Much of the café’s fame was helped by its feature on the show Only Fools And Horses as Sid’s Café in the 1980s – the greasy spoon where many dodgy schemes were thought up by main character Del Boy. Because although the show was set in South East London’s Peckham, it was largely filmed in Bristol. It’s not the only time the café appeared on TV either, as both Casualty and Being Human used it as a filming location.
For the last twenty years, Lockside was run by the same family. Following Only Fools And Horses fame, they gave the café a makeover that added a decked terrace with views of the Avon Gorge and the Clifton Suspension Bridge. The owners were also quick to downplay its greasy spoon past and called itself a “polished spoon” instead, with a full-lunch menu and a selection of wines. But they are now stepping away from the business due to the retirement of the owner, Gary Brunton.
This is not all to say the café is quite dead and buried yet. The lease has been placed on the market and the estate agents are accepting offers in excess of £50,000. The listing also claims that it historically traded around £500,000 a year, so a worthy investment for the right person.
Whether new owners maintain the modern touch Lockside has cultivated in recent years, or they return to the greasy spoon roots that found its fame, remains to be seen. Let’s just hope someone comes along and rescues it soon.