Little Chef brand could be scrapped

Little Chef brand could be scrapped

The Little Chef has been put up for sale, and could disappear from Britain's roadsides after more than 50 years in business.

So far, bidders include other chains McDonalds, KFC and Costa Coffee - but if any of their bids are successful they are not expected to continue trading as Little Chef.

The business has had a difficult time since it went into administration in 2007 and was bought by the London-based private equity group Rcapital.

Since then it has undergone a menu revamp by Heston Blumenthal but, although it has returned to profit, diners have been more inclined to eat at rival fast food chains.

Rcapital said: "The aim of the sale was to find a buyer that would take the business and the brand on to the next stage. However the market is changing and fast food and coffee houses are growing in popularity. It is not a surprise that the majority of the offers for Little Chef are from companies that may want to re-brand the estate. Rcapital has a deep affection for the Little Chef brand and it is hoped that some Little Chefs will remain on Britain's A roads even if some sites are re-branded."

Little Chef started out as an an 11-seat restaurant in Reading, Berkshire in 1958. The chain now has 83 sites from Devon to Scotland, and serves about six million customers per year.

It is thought that the sale will be complete by the end of the summer.

Click on the image below for our guide to great British foods...

10 PHOTOS
Great British food
See Gallery
Little Chef brand could be scrapped

'A genuine Cornish pasty has a distinctive D shape and is crimped on one side, never on top,' the Cornish Pasty Association says. Hit Cornwall to enjoy its national dish, which was once eaten by poor working class families who could only afford cheap ingredients in the 18th century. The pastry filled with chunky beef, swede, potato and onion with a light salt and pepper seasoning is slow-baked and golden brown in colour. Today you can buy the savoury treats all over the country but you'll want to visit Cornwall to taste the real thing. Some great Cornish pasty shops in Cornwall include The Chough Bakery in Padstow, Philp's Famous Pasties in Hayle and Ann's Pasties in The Lizard. 

If you're into adventurous eating and think you can handle Scottish delicacy haggis, take a trip to Scotland to taste the meaty dish. Haggis is best described as a kind of sausage or a savoury pudding cooked in a casing of sheep's intestine. It may not sound appealing but the 2001 English edition of the Larousse Gastronomique says it has an 'excellent nutty texture and delicious savoury flavour'. The dish is popular all over Scotland and there's even a vegetarian version so non-meat eaters don't have to miss out. Want to eat haggis in Scotland? Try Amber Restaurant set in The Scotch Whisky Experience at the top of Edinburgh’s Royal Mile, which serves a delicious traditional haggis. The hotel Monachyle Mhor in the Trossachs National Park serves haggis bonbons and haggis for breakfast too. 

Head to the home of the famous blue-veined cheese in Cambridgeshire where historically, The Bell Inn in the village of Stilton popularized Stilton cheese with passing travellers. It's no longer made in the village and only producers in Derbyshire, Nottingham and Leicestershire are allowed to use the name Stilton for the cheese, but the village still celebrates the crumbly blue favourite with its annual Stilton-rolling competition in May. If you're visiting the village you can eat all kinds of Stilton at The Bell Inn. In a leek and potato soup, as a paté or in a creamy sauce on a steak are just some of the ways you can sample the cheese at the inn. 

The tradition of baking these fruit cakes on a bakestone goes back so far that it's unclear where in Wales it originates from, although it's said to have started in the Valleys in South Wales. Welsh cakes are traditionally cooked on a bakestone (a flat cast iron griddle that sits on top of the cooker) and contain flour, butter, sugar, currants, egg and spices (mainly cinnamon and nutmeg). The cakes are normally dusted with caster sugar and can be served hot or cold - perfect with a good cuppa! Looking for some top spots in South Wales to taste Welsh cakes? At Fabulous Welshcakes in Mermaid Quay, Cardiff Bay you can watch the cakes being made and take some warms one away with you. 

Once a staple food of East and South London's working class when eels were the only fish tough enough to survive in the polluted River Thames, jellied eels can still be found in London if you know where to look. The fish boiled in gelatine is definitely a dish for the brave due to its jellied texture. Even if you don't have the stomach for jellied eels, a visit to a shop is a must to see the Victorian decor and to try pie and mash - another traditional London dish. Goddard's in Deptford, Greenwich, F Cooke on Broadway Market in Hackney and Manze's in Tower Bridge Road in Southwark are some of the best places in London for jellied eels and pie and mash.

A Sunday roast wouldn't be the same without Yorkshire puddings. The crispy batter dish was originally served as a starter by the working class people of Yorkshire and made with dripping fat from meat roasting in the oven. It's still common in parts of Yorkshire for the dish to be eaten separately to a main meat meal. According to a 2008 ruling by the Royal Society of Chemistry, 'a Yorkshire pudding isn't a Yorkshire pudding if it is less than four inches tall'. For a tasty Sunday lunch in Yorkshire, head to the Carlton Bore in Thirsk where you can enjoy a traditional roast with fresh Yorkshire puddings. 

Did you know that Colchester Natives are considered some of the best oysters in the world? The tangy molluscs found off the Essex coast were first popularised by the Romans and are flatter, creamier, sweeter and more delicate than more common varieties. The Romans dubbed them as 'the only good thing to come out of Britain'. Mersea Island in Colchester is home to famous suppliers Richard Haward and The Colchester Oyster Fishery. The Company Shed and the West Mersey Oyster Bar are two top spots for eating the oysters when they're in season. 

When the hotel cook at the Rutland Arms in the market town of Bakewell, Derbyshire misunderstood the instructions of a dessert she was making in 1860 and spread the egg mixture on top of the jam instead of stirring it into the pastry, little did she know she'd create a local delicacy that would become a much-loved teatime treat all over the country. Visit the Peak District town where you can buy a real Bakewell tart, or pudding as they call it. At the Old Original Bakewell Pudding Shop in The Square you can even post yourself a Pudding, the Bakewell Pudding Parlour on Water Street is a good place to have the dessert with a cup of tea and at The Bakewell Tart Shop on Matlock Street you can have a personal message iced on a tart! 

Ever tried an Arbroath Smokie? It's a haddock that's dried and salted before being smoked over a half-whisky barrel which is set into a smokie pit in the ground. It's intense, rich and smoky in flavour with a burnished copper colour. The Scottish delicacy originated in Auchmithie, a small fishing village a few miles north of Arbroath, which was once populated with Scandinavian fishermen. Although Arbroath Smokies are exported all over the world, they're protected by the European Commission, meaning only haddock smoked in a traditional way within an eight-kilometre radius of Arbroath are considered genuine. Watch the haddock being traditionally smoked by Iain Spink of RR Spink & Sons at a farmer's market, then eat them warm from the newspaper on the beach in Arbroath. But 'n' Ben Restaurant in the real home of the Smokie, Auchmithie, is the perfect place to eat fresh Arbroath Smokies when the weather takes a turn for the worse. 

Like many of Britain's best dishes, the hotpot was born as a necessity and made from everyday local ingredients like potatoes, carrots and lambs by working class families in Lancashire to get them through the winter. Bubbling Lancashire hotpot with its meaty lamb juices and golden potato topping is a pub favourite and you won't want to miss eating the real thing at a restaurant or pub in Lancashire. Be sure to order it with picked red cabbage and a local beer, followed by an Eccles cake, which is also a Lancashire speciality. Top spots to enjoy authentic hotpot in Lancashire include Michelin chef Nigel Haworth's cosy pub The Three Fishes in Mitton where tasty Bowland lamb hotpot is served and Nigel's elegant restaurant Northcote Manor in Blackburn. Want somewhere to stay? 

HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE


Related articles:

Gordon Ramsey loses Claridge's Hotel restaurant contract

British tourists shock at £54 ice creams

Read Full Story

FROM OUR PARTNERS