Exeter High Street witnesses a shift in its business landscape as two familiar establishments, Waterstones and Burger King, bid farewell to what they deem as ‘surplus’ branches. The decision reflects a strategic adjustment in their presence within the city centre.
The well-known book emporium, situated next to Cathedral Yard, and the popular fast-food joint next door are parting ways with their Exeter High Street units this month, signaling the end of an era for local patrons.
For Waterstones enthusiasts, an alternative awaits just a short distance away. The bookstore’s existing multi-level flagship branch will continue its operations at the Sidwell Street end of the High Street, ensuring avid readers can still immerse themselves in the literary haven that Waterstones offers.
Similarly, Burger King patrons will find solace in the fact that a spacious new branch has emerged at the Exe Bridge Retail Park, conveniently located a short distance away down Fore Street and New Bridge Street. This strategic relocation ensures that fans of the iconic Whopper and flame-grilled goodness can continue to indulge in a new and vibrant setting.
The decision to close the High Street locations aligns with a broader trend of businesses re-evaluating their physical footprints, especially in city centres. Waterstones and Burger King’s choice to bid adieu to what they term as ‘surplus’ branches indicates a calculated move to optimize their presence in response to evolving consumer trends.
The vacated units, both notably spacious, are not destined to remain empty for long. Plans are already underway to transform a section of one of the units into a new restaurant. In May 2023, it was announced that the popular Thai restaurant chain, Giggling Squid, had set its sights on acquiring part of the site that backs onto Cathedral Yard.
Giggling Squid, originally launched in 2002 in the basement of a cottage, has grown into a formidable player in the culinary scene. What began as a flagship restaurant has now expanded to include 45 establishments across the UK, with an additional seven locations in the pipeline, according to their website.
The restaurant has earned a stellar reputation for its classic Thai menu, featuring an array of delectable options such as curries, pad Thai, noodles, and stir fry dishes. Promising “ample dishes, bold flavours, and exotic ingredients to be enjoyed together,” Giggling Squid brings a taste of Thailand to Exeter, further diversifying the culinary offerings available to locals and visitors alike.
The introduction of Giggling Squid to the High Street represents not only a change in the gastronomic landscape but also an exciting development for those seeking a culinary adventure. The restaurant’s commitment to delivering authentic Thai cuisine coupled with its success across the UK positions it as a welcomed addition to Exeter’s vibrant food scene.
As Waterstones and Burger King make way for new ventures and experiences, the High Street undergoes a dynamic transformation that reflects the ever-changing nature of urban spaces. The reshuffling of businesses, coupled with the arrival of Giggling Squid, adds a fresh chapter to Exeter’s story, ensuring that its streets continue to be a blend of tradition and innovation.