Where are the Little Chefs going?

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Bryn666
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Re: where are the little chefs going?

Postby Bryn666 » Wed Feb 22, 2012 20:03

Alfreton is the A38/A61 junction and it's still live and kicking.

It does look a bit like a TRSA, bit like Sutton Scotney.
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Re: where are the little chefs going?

Postby SteveA30 » Wed Feb 22, 2012 20:35

Duncan may have meant the other A38/A61 junction at Little Eaton, where the LC has indeed closed.

I recall trying Alfreton in the early 90's and, finding there was no cafe at all, just a lodge. The lady said many others stopped under the same impression. The LC must have come later.

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Re: where are the little chefs going?

Postby Johnathan404 » Thu Feb 23, 2012 19:16

SteveA30 wrote:Duncan may have meant the other A38/A61 junction at Little Eaton, where the LC has indeed closed.
Indeed - Duncan, it probably didn't help that I got them mixed up on MSO! :)
Duncan wrote:I also find some of the shut downs rather odd. On the A31, they have closed Picket Post, which is part of a dedicated service area, and the Little Chef (a former Happy Eater IIRC), but have kept St Leonard's and Rufus Stone, which are in old, fairly run down buildings, going.
I thought St. Leonard's was closed? It was supposed to shut a month ago anyway (but then, Picket Post was supposed to be safe).
Duncan wrote:Does anyone know what they are basing the choices for closure on?
It is (apparently) purely based on profits.

My problem with Granada was more about what they didn't do - they very much expected the brand to look after itself with little input required.
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Re: where are the little chefs going?

Postby SteveA30 » Fri Feb 24, 2012 07:41

Picket Post is boarded up. Feb 16 was the last time I passed. St Leonards was open then, it is part of a Travelodge. What has happened in the week since, who knows? :?

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Re: where are the little chefs going?

Postby AAndy » Sun Feb 26, 2012 21:32

Farrington Gurney on the A37 on thursday 23rd feb 12
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Re: where are the little chefs going?

Postby Bryn666 » Sun Feb 26, 2012 21:41

Clarkson gave a bit of a positive review to modern Little Chef vs late 90s awful Little Chef tonight.
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Re: where are the little chefs going?

Postby Halstead » Sun Feb 26, 2012 22:20

Bryn666 wrote:Clarkson gave a bit of a positive review to modern Little Chef vs late 90s awful Little Chef tonight.


Whilst James May proves that sleeping behind the wheel is much safer than taking photos of roads whilst driving... :oops:

(grabs coat and leaves)
6 years...

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Re: where are the little chefs going?

Postby ninny » Sat Mar 10, 2012 16:50

All set to close in the next few months. Little Chef now making a total exit from Kent. The East and South East badly hit. The last Little Chef to reopen and still be trading also runs out of luck at Shiptonthorpe. Scotland also decimated. Cornwall has one remaining site.

Emsworth
Five Oaks
Gate
... Whitstable East
Stonehouse
Rivenhall South
Hockliffe
Capel St Mary South
Old Stratford
Stowmarket
Ludlow
Dunchurch
Morcott
Thrussington
Long Sutton
Wrexham
South Cave East
Shiptonthorpe
Collin
Liphook (advetised by the estate agents as the only services between Petersfield in the southwest and Hindhead in the northeast.....seems like a crazy decision to close this site!)

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Re: where are the little chefs going?

Postby SteveA30 » Sat Mar 10, 2012 20:15

Where did you get that info from? The LC website News page has the Top Gear review as the latest item, from Feb 29.

The Liphook closure reduces A3 LC's to 1 from 8, not necessarily all open at the same time. Wisley South is the survivor but, Cobham MSA may well kill that one, as A3 traffic from London won't be stopping that early, or at all, now that Hindhead is out of the way. M25 south to A3 may keep it going perhaps.
Wisley North became a Starbucks.

I was at A17 Long Sutton in mid Feb and asked if this one was safe, 'oh yes' she said but then, they are probably the last to know...

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Re: where are the little chefs going?

Postby Truvelo » Sat Mar 10, 2012 20:24

Is it possible for LC to make a total exit from the UK? Seems like there will be none left the way things are going.
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Re: where are the little chefs going?

Postby Johnathan404 » Sun Mar 11, 2012 15:20

I don't see a total exit, given that sites such as Popham and Fontwell still rake it in, but it's quite likely that they will end up so small that you won't remember them.

SteveA30 wrote:I was at A17 Long Sutton in mid Feb and asked if this one was safe, 'oh yes' she said but then, they are probably the last to know...
Indeed, staff at Picket Post were quoted in the local paper saying they'd been told they were safe, and it closed two weeks later.
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Re: where are the little chefs going?

Postby Bryn666 » Sun Mar 11, 2012 16:48

It's a shame, really.

We're not all 'drive through' types when on long journeys - indeed, I usually mix my break from driving with a sit down meal.

Given that my other 'easy find food', Brewers Fayre, is getting rarer to find it seems that the likes of Crown Carvery will be taking up much of the slack.
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Re: where are the little chefs going?

Postby Glen » Sun Mar 11, 2012 16:55

Bryn666 wrote:Given that my other 'easy find food', Brewers Fayre, is getting rarer to find it seems that the likes of Crown Carvery will be taking up much of the slack.
Are they? Whitbread are opening more new hotels than anyone else now, all with a variety of their restaurant brands. I'm not aware of them significantly reducing the number of Brewer's Fayre branded ones in favour of others.

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Re: where are the little chefs going?

Postby Bryn666 » Sun Mar 11, 2012 17:04

Several have vanished in this area - at least five have changed hands around Blackburn, two to privately owned restaurants, another two to Crown Carvery, and the other became a Harvester.

The portfolio has definitely shrunk.
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Re: where are the little chefs going?

Postby Glen » Sun Mar 11, 2012 17:57

Bryn666 wrote:Several have vanished in this area - at least five have changed hands around Blackburn, two to privately owned restaurants, another two to Crown Carvery, and the other became a Harvester.

The portfolio has definitely shrunk.

Were they stand-alone restaurants, it's possible they are getting rid of some of them? But they are definitely increasing their number of hotels - they have vastly more than any other chain, all of which have either Brewers Fayre, Beefeater, Table Table, generic Premier Inn, or occasionally third party restaurants.

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Re: where are the little chefs going?

Postby Bryn666 » Sun Mar 11, 2012 18:03

Just did a search and it seems that, yes, standalone restaurants were closed en masse around 2009. There's been a resurgence with Premier Inn sites but that's still far fewer than before.

Mind you, even McDonald's have been abandoning town centres so food these days is clearly not a stable market :wink:
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Re: where are the little chefs going?

Postby Truvelo » Sun Mar 11, 2012 18:25

Bryn666 wrote:Mind you, even McDonald's have been abandoning town centres so food these days is clearly not a stable market :wink:

Indeed, this Pizza Hut which has been there for as long as I can remember has recently closed.
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Re: where are the little chefs going?

Postby Duncan » Sun Mar 11, 2012 20:06

Bryn666 wrote:It's a shame, really.

We're not all 'drive through' types when on long journeys - indeed, I usually mix my break from driving with a sit down meal.

Given that my other 'easy find food', Brewers Fayre, is getting rarer to find it seems that the likes of Crown Carvery will be taking up much of the slack.


I'm the same Bryn. It was an old chestnut that MSA food was always rubbish and always expensive, yet I had a superb roast beef meal at Exeter Services in my early driving days (1988 I think) from their carvery table, and it was doing very brisk business that day. The price was no more than you would have paid in most pubs. In my long distance driving days following the Albion (I now go by coach as I find the driving knackering), I would regularly eat at an MSA, and remember eating steak on my way back from Liverpool. As I posted on Motorway Services Online, I came across this design for Ferrybridge. It included a carving table.

I am wondering if Little Chefs have suffered from the same trend of MSAs majoring on coffee and burger bars, with the self-service restaurant relegated to a small corner. Sure, all these restaurants sell now is fried stuff, which isn't always the best on a long drive. I also wonder whether Little Chefs might only be viable on roads that carry motorway-level traffic and have to carry out a similar function, such as the A14, on which Cambridge Services seems to do very well.

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Re: where are the little chefs going?

Postby SteveA30 » Sun Mar 11, 2012 20:46

Called in at Warminster LC today. I've taken to asking at each one now if they are safe. He said that 21 would close in October. The list from Ninny is of 20 but, the LC chap said that either Warminster or A36 Beckington would go, neither of which are on that list. These are Travelodge ones so, if they are under threat then, extinction or Hestonisation of all survivors seems likely.
Plenty are reopening as locally owned cafes, sometimes aiming at transport as well as motorists, which seems sensible. Diversifying may be the only option now.

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Re: where are the little chefs going?

Postby OLD GIT » Sun Mar 11, 2012 21:33

Possibly it's something the management should have taken on board years ago . Like why did they get the nickname "Little Thieves". Might have been an opportunity for some some director to go undercover and find out WHY. Like high prices and poor quality goods. As far as I'm concerned ,the only good thing about them was the toilet facilities provided as part of their contract . Nowadays, on a trip , I look for a site with stacks of trucks parked up . That's my way of suggesting that a catering site is worth stopping at . Last time out, we stopped at one ,and Mrs OG wanted a fried egg on a roll. It was delivered on a plate,with napkin. The site was difficult to park in ,due to large number of trucks in layby - so making my point.
Perhaps we need a SABRE guide to roadside catering places . :D


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