As much as I love Little Chef - to me they are synonymous with roadtrip in my mind - I have to agree that the OK Diner is good. The milkshakes are absolutely awesome!
They were apparently set up by two ex Forte guys and were part of the City Centre Restaurants Group.http://www.caterersearch.com/Articles/3 ... market.htm
After mixed successes they were later sold in 2001 to, I presume the current owners as a much more scaled down affair. Today two of them are in former Little Chef sites on the A38 near derby and the A1 at New Fox southbound.
Anytime I visit I am always impressed with how well they seem to have nailed their concept. Yes, what you pay is probably a bit more than high street and on a par with Little Chef but it feels like decent value because the decor and building add to the package so well. I remember stopping at the carlton one near Newark on the A1 northbound at lunchtime in 2008 and being told there was a 30 minute wait on tables. Clearly they are doing well! Little Chef seem to have realised this about the surroundings too - I think the York branch looks great after its makeover and its a great place to sit in now as well as eating in. A bit of investment in the sites to reassure the public that they do care about them - maybe not all to the same extent as York but at least to make them look loved - and they'd do so much better. Markham Moor south for example looked so sad even when it was open!
I agree that there's so many redundant roadside sites that OK Diners could make work too. I'd love it if they came to Scotland and took over Musselburgh services (former Granada/ AJ's Diner/ Little Chef site that is now largely derelict.)