Little Chef has been serving good food at Britainís roadsides for over 50 years. The first Little Chef opened in Reading in 1958, the same year Britain got its very first motorway. From 11 seats, we've grown to become one of the UK's favourite roadside restaurants with 78 Little Chef restaurants from Scotland down to Cornwall.
Read on to find out more about our history, our recent restaurant makeovers and of course our all-important food!
Our Little Chef chain of restaurants all started with Sam Alper, a Londoner who popularised caravanning in the UK after the Second World War. In the mid-1950s Alper visited America to market his company's best-selling Sprite caravan alongside catering boss Peter Merchant who was seeking new ideas for his business. It was the era when Americans first took to the roads en masse and what most intrigued both Sam and Peter, were the diner caravans that they saw popping up at the side of some of America's most popular highways.
In 1958 we saw many historic events happen in Britain, including the first section of Motorway opening, the first Trans-Atlantic passenger jet service and the first Little Chef opening its doors to the public. Upon their return to England, Sam and Peter opened an 11-seat diner caravan in Reading, strategically located at what might be described as "the gateway to the West Country". He called it "Little Chef" after the American diner that had first inspired him and hey presto, Little Chef brand was born!
In 1995 we opened a fast-food takeaway operation called "Little Chef Express" which enabled us to open inside shopping centres and airport terminals. In 1996 we were taken over by Granada, who then closed the Little Chef coffee stops, changing most to Burger King outlets.
In 1994 the iconic Olympic Breakfast was added to our menu, which remains a best-seller to this day.
In 2007 ownership changed hands to our current owners RCapital. To celebrate we decided to team up with Heston Blumenthal, who tweaked the menu and helped develop a new look for Little Chef. For the first time in restaurant chain history, Little Chef made it into the Good Food Guide in 2010 and 2011, and we began opening our new 'concept' restaurants, known as "Wonderfully British".
To top off a fantastic year we were chosen to appear in a book about The Queen's favourite British brands, in honour of Her Majesty's Diamond Jubilee. cementing in history the love of Little Chef brand.
We have a fantastic year ahead of us, make sure you keep checking back to find out what's next for Charlie and Little Chef!