Deathwatch: Time for the Little Chef to hang up his apron?

11 January 2012

deathwatch Could it be the end of the road for the Little Chef? The erstwhile roadside food-hole chain is reportedly closing 70 of its erm, special restaurants, according to The Sun, with the loss of 600 jobs.


It would represent a chopping of almost half the company’s outlets, with only 91 ‘restauarants’ remaining after the cull. It survived administration in 2007, but even the intervention of bald kitchen mentalist Heston Blumenthal in 2008 has failed to turn things around. He revamped several of the ‘restaurants’, no doubt adding weirdo dishes like cement soup, actual toad in the hole and laser beam-flavoured ice cream to the menu.

Ah well. Tell us something good about Little Chef in the comments box below. Or, you know, something not good. GO!


TOPICS:   Restaurants


  • Ross
    Quite simply, they're too expensive. The breakfasts are "ok" but they're just a bit dated. Should've stuck to Happy Eater's
  • klingelton
    When was the last time someone crammed their face holes with the greasy offerings of these so-called "restaurants"? My bet is - a very long time ago. Over expensive rubbish. They didn't keep up with the dietary changes in the UK and are another company to suffer from the widespread availability of choice offered to consumers. I can respect a company that is unwilling to change to protect a brand, but when that brand is based on outdated ideals and consumer research that is old, they are doomed to failure. Secondly - the Heston inspired little mad chefs were not across the whole chain, meaning you were never sure what you were going to get. It was all a bit half hearted. Make the change to all or none.
  • Me
    I've been to one of the "Heston" Little Chefs and have to say I would happily go back - Good food, nice environment and if anything the price was lower than the normal restaurants you get at Motorway services. Saying that I've also had the same mistake of stopping at one which was the standard offering and only got as far as sitting down before noticing the sticky floor, split and torn seating and the miserable looking meals coming out of the kitchen which was enough for me to get up and leave. I really think they missed a trick and could have really succeeded with the "Heston" approach. Shame really.
  • Yernan!
    I love Little Thief!! Their greasy breakfasts always sorts out a hangover. Just too bloody expensive. I'd go more often if they downed their prices..
    Thats what he gets for stealing from tesco
  • JonB
    I was so impressed with what Heston was doing at Little Chef that we visited the Popham branch to try it out. It was definitely worth while and served much better food. I can agree with the comments that it should have been rolled out nationwide, but if you watched the TV series you'd have seen that he was hampered at every move by the CEO of the chain. IMHO, roadside restaurants primarily need to be fast at serving food, and sadly Little Chef fails on this too often for me.
  • Deviant
    Motorway services seem to be becomming more like midway meeting rooms for businesses and are priced with those fortunate enough to get paid business expenses in mind. I commonly use them for this purpose, but they are so expensive, that I wouldn't dream of eating in one on my own time or money. Having said that, last Saturday morning I stopped at the Little Chef near Kenilworth (in my own time!) as I'd got up late, missed breakfast and was ready to eat a scabby dog, which was pretty much all I expected from there. What I actually ended up getting was a pretty decent meal (American breakfast) with a brew for what I considered a reasonable amount (and less then I expected), particularly when compared to the warm shite served by McD's. May be too little, t0o late, but I for one will be going back again (if there are any left)
  • Escherichia C.
    "Tell us something good about Little Chef ..." The exit door?
  • Sicknote
    The motorway restaurant services industry somewhat imploded when the petrol stations got on the band wagon selling what can only be described as edible shit. I remember visiting a Little / Road Chef cafe in the early seventies when I would spend my summers with an aunt in Weston-Super-Mare and I remember a fun and happy experience. The last time I used Little Chef was about 1999 and the food was ghastly; ingredients sourced for the lowest price and an utter waste of money. By comparison when I lived in Germany the road side restaurants use fresh ingredients and the chef will ask how you want your steak cooked. And, there is very little crap food for sale at the petrol counter. This is nothing more than a sad sign of the times that we Brits are prepared to tolerate being shovelled shit on a daily basis and saying nothing about it. Have you ever complained at a service station that the food is crap, try it - it's very liberating.
  • M5
    Do you still get a lollipop if you finish you're meal? :)
  • Cheesey
    Little Chef have been hit hard by the explosion in McD's/BK/KFC/M&S/Coop/Tesco Express on every Motorway Services and roundabout. Even the service stations have upped their game with the inclusion of brand names. Even worse for LC is the huge amount of trailers/cafes/diners in every layby up and down the country. So what's the difference between LC and all the competition? Simple. Most greasy spoon cafes and layby diners are run by the owners. There are no managers to pay, no area managers, no directors, no managing directors, no equity groups, no huge borrowings. Quite simply LC have shafted themselves by becoming too corporate.
  • Richard M.
    There's two fundamental problems with Little Chef restaurants - firstly, they need to employ one additional person per outlet whose sole job it is to clear and wipe down the tables. Too often, I've stood and waited, while half the tables are empty but have not been cleared. Secondly, and perhaps most obviously, they would surely be better to operate a 'self service' breakfast option, i.e. a 7 piece for, say £4.99 and a fat bastard, artery busting 9 piece option for, say, £6.99. This would make the meal look much better value but perhaps more importantly, you could grab yourself a cooked breakfast and be done and dusted in 20 minutes. Heck, they could issue every customer with a squirty bottle of Cif and a J-Cloth so we could wipe down our own table! (They could sack the aforementioned extra person then!)
  • A.Pedant
    You are a meal....? What? Happy Eater pwned Little Chef. True fact, Happy Eater was sued out of business be Richard branson
  • Richard b.
    I have decided to "be Richard branson". It is just as much fun as you thought it would be. False fact.
  • Frank P.
    I once knew a Litttle Chef. He wore bells on his shoes and cooked a lovely tomato. Ahhhh... those were the days.
  • Kip
    I just think Little Chef hasn't evolved much in the last 20 years, it's been left to stagnate and die, I'm not suprised with that idiot in charge who was on the Heston Blumenthal documentary. The last time I went to a Little Chef it was pretty much the same as it was when I was a child with my parents but everything just looked a bit older, sadder and tattier...

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