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End of the road for Little Chef

Hold up!

See that little date above?

This post was published years ago.

My opinions have changed over time: I think it's quite fun to keep old posts online so that you can see how that has happened. The downside is that there are posts on this site that express views that I now find offensive, or use language in ways I'd never dream of using it today.

I don't believe in airbrushing history, but I do believe that it's important to acknowledge the obvious: some of what I've written in the past has been crap. Some of it was offensive. Some of it was offensively bad. And there's may be some brass among the muck (you can make up your own mind on that).

Some of what I've presented as my own views has been me—wittingly or unwittingly—posturing without having considered all the facts. In a few years, I'll probably think the same about what I'm writing today, and I'm fine with that. Things change. People grow. Society moves forward.

The internet moves on too, which means there might be broken links or embedded content that fails to load. If you're unlucky, that might mean that this post makes no sense at all.

So please consider yourself duly warned: this post is an historical artefact. It's not an exposition of my current views nor a piece of 'content' than necessarily 'works'.

You may now read on... and in most cases, the post you're about to read is considerably shorter than this warning box, so brace for disappointment.

FOR nearly 50 years the tubby, smiling figure on its signs has held out the promise of fry-ups for motorists. But Little Chef, the roadside restaurant chain, may be about to hang up its famous white hat.

The chain, once part of Sir Rocco Forte’s hotel and catering empire, is being broken up and the brand name seems likely to disappear forever.

This seems a shame, but it all went that little bit gross when they started using microwave food instead of actually cooking. And it was never exactly cheap, and they rarely had what you wanted. I always preferred Burger King anyway…

This post was filed under: News and Comment.

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Comments and responses

Comment from friend


    13.00, 05/05/2005

Little chef’s are not all microwaved food, they do actually cook, how otherwise would you get a cooked breakfast with fresh eggs and bacon, not pre-cooked and put under lights, like
Tesco’s or other very expensive motorway services.
Food is on a level par with a restaurant (which little chefs are) not a motorway service area (they are not a burger king type outlet either).
Free refills and a kids friendly menu, perhaps you need to have another look?


Comment from sjhoward (author of the post)


    20.35, 05/05/2005

I didn’t intend to suggest that all their food was microwaved, and I’m sorry if my comments read that way. However, last time I visited, certainly much of the food was pre-prepared and simply heated.

I haven’t been to Little Chef in some time, but my most recent experience consisted of an absurdly long wait, extortionate prices, an apparent food shortage (they had hardly any of the options on the menu available), sub-standard food and a blunt refusal to heat a baby bottle on the grounds of Health and Safety – not exactly ‘kid friendly’, and something which, as it happens, Burger King are happy to do.

This was, perhaps, the trough of a gradually declining level of service. That I accept. But perhaps unsurprisingly, I’ve had little desire to return again to discover whether things may now be on an upward trend once again.


Comment from zan


    12.30, 09/06/2005

sorry to tell you this but most of Bk food gets
the microwave too


Comment from sjhoward (author of the post)


    13.29, 09/06/2005

Ah yes, but BK ‘food’ is cheap fast food, which you expect to be prepared cheaply. It isn’t disguising itself as ‘proper’ food. So that makes it okay in my little world.


Comment from joe


    21.05, 13/08/2005

i used to work @ a little chef an ALL the food is already cooked and frozen, simply heated by a high powered microwave etc – except the eggs!


Comment from Stu


    19.27, 31/07/2006

Further to Joes comments that all the food at little chef is already cooked except the eggs, he clearly does not know what he is talking about whether he may have worked at a little chef or not.

None of the items for instance on a breakfast are pre cooked they are all cooked as required for service, some items are frozen products but that is hardly suprising and maintaines freshness.

Nearly all the food cooked in a little chef is cooked either on the griddle, in the fryers, toasted or in the merry chef.

They have microwaves used mainly for heating peas and beans like most of us do at home, hardly unreasonable.

As the kitchens are mainly open and visable next time you ask for a meal watch to see how it is cooked and then you will see that alot of nonsence has been spoken here.

I have used Little Chef since a boy and it still offers good serive and food and a reasonable price i now work in one and i am constantly amazed how many of our customers still comment on the excellent service that we offer, not something you hear in alot of establishments.

As for Burger King a good many of them are in fact operated by Little Chef.


Comment from joe


    19.33, 31/07/2006

absolute rubbish i was a cook at a little chef for two years, all food is pre-cooked and heated up in the turbo chef microwave, or the fryers or the griddle, the bacon is pre-cooked and warmed thorugh the sausges are frozen and cooked and just fried, saute ptoates the same frozen and then re-heated in a fryer

only tomatoes and eggs are cooked from scratch with the execption of the scrambled eggs that come in a packet and are microwaved


Comment from sjhoward (author of the post)


    20.43, 31/07/2006

Is it possible that different techniques are employed at different restaurants? Or that practices have moved on since the time Joe was a chef at, erm, Little Chef?

I note with interest that none of these questions about how the food is prepared are answered on the Little Chef website, which is surprising if the food is indeed all fresh, as you’d expect that’s something they’d want to make a big deal out of.


Comment from susi SCOTLAND


    18.36, 06/02/2007

I have worked in Little Chef for seven years now and yes every Little Chef has its moments but tell me any one restaurant that doesn’t! If you have a complaint the staff are expected by the company who employs us to help put things right ps to answer the comment about the baby’s bottle, this new procedure was put in place so that boiling hot water is not placed on the table where infants could be badly scalded, your server should have taken it to the servery. As for the food – would you wait an hour for me to freshly make a burger, cook it, plate it, serve it as well as trying to cook meals for the other 20 people in the restaurant! The food is brought in by reputable suppliers with the intention of serving you faster than you would otherwise, if this means by reheating frozen precooked meals then i can’t see a problem. Do not taint us all with the same brush, if you have had a bad experience then do not just write us off come try another time, you never know you could become a regular.


Comment from Anonymous


    05.06, 29/09/2007

you people over there are joke, you woulnt know good food just like you dont know soap and water. come to the states and you will find excellent fast food


Comment from TJM


    13.58, 02/01/2008

Just to clarify – All food is either fried or microwaved.
I can even remember some half wit from the “menu development” dept. telling us that microwaved pancakes would be so much better than fresh! Oh how we laughed……..




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