The long-empty Atomic Diner site is now available to rent – but there’s a catch

Bristol has something of a reputation as a burger capital, hosting dozens of outlets dedicated to the (often) meaty treat. But one of the city’s favourite fast food restaurants remains dark and empty, five years after it closed down.

Located on Union Street, Atomic Diner was a popular haunt for those who enjoyed cartons full of carbs piled high with protein – including an impressive range of vegan-friendly burgers and sides.

But the venue closed at short notice back in 2017, with owners initially blaming an electrical fault in the kitchen. They still have an outlet called Atomic Burger, around two miles away on Gloucester Road, but the restaurant on Union Street has never reopened.

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Now the former location is available to other entrepreneurs who might want to join Bristol’s burgeoning burger scene – or open a shop, or run some other attraction – with rentals being handled by commercial property agencies Carter Jonas and Fawcett Mead.

The ground floor unit in Broadmead measures 3,571 square feet, including a basement. The property is “well configured and benefits from glass frontage and good levels of daytime traffic,” a brochure listing says.

Its surrounds are described as a “busy location within Bristol city centre” – despite upcoming plans to demolish the nearby Galleries shopping arcade . The existing retail centre is set to be replaced in two years with a new development of shops, flats, offices and eateries.

A bird's eye view of the former Atomic Diner at Union Gate, Broadmead.
A bird’s eye view of the former Atomic Diner at Union Gate, Broadmead.
(Image: Google)

Stuart Williams, of Carter Jonas, insisted there had been “stacks of interest” in the Atomic Diner. He added that negotiations around occupation of an upstairs unit at the same address were nearing completion.

But he added that prospective tenants of the former burger bar should be prepared to move out after two years, due to separate redevelopment plans affecting the Atomic Diner building itself.

Bristol Live has made enquiries about the nature and scope of these redevelopment plans, but has been unable to confirm any details at the present time.

Vivienne Kennedy, head of Broadmead BID, insisted that “the future is very bright for retail in Broadmead”, adding that the business group was “excited about the developments” planned for The Gallery.

She added: “It can be a challenge for agents when leases are available on a short term basis, but it also gives prospective retailers, including local independents, the chance to try out ideas without being tied in for a long period.

“We have lots of independent retailers in Broadmead too, around 110 shops, many of which support other local artists and makers by offering them bricks and mortar space to sell their fantastic products.”

While Bristol’s shopping districts were badly impacted between 2020 and 2021 by the Covid-19 pandemic – as were city centres all over the UK and much of the world – footfall is bouncing back at an impressive rate.

“The area is recovering well from Covid,” Vivienne said. “We compare footfall to 2019’s figures and we’re almost back on track, recovering at a faster rate than the UK in general and the rest of this region.”

Developments such as a soon-to-open Lidl store on Union Street and Clothing XChange, a brand new, unique outlet for second-hand designer fashion, are additional causes for optimism, she added.

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