The Astwick branch was a former Little Chef located on the northbound side of the A1, just north of Baldock.
Address and Onsite Facilities
ADDRESS: A1 Northbound, Astwick, Bedfordshire, SG5 4BL
ONSITE FACILITIES: BP, Nisa Local (forecourt), Subway (forecourt), Costa Express (forecourt)
For more information, visit Motorway Services Online
The restaurant opened in 1980/81 and was built in Little Chef's house style of the era with the flat roof and large windows facing the road. Located next to a busy BP filling station, this presented a great opportunity for Little Chef to attract additional custom from the facility.
In 1996/97, Astwick was joined by a southbound partner when Baldock Happy Eater, almost directly opposite, became a Little Chef.
Despite a good run and a decent location, in 2004 then owners Permira put 131 Little Chefs up for sale, with quieter sites and those without a lodge facility deemed to be the most vulnerable. By this point Astwick was in a sandwich. Just slightly further south lay Extra's Baldock motorway service area at the Baldock junction and, given that it offered more facilities and traffic would reach it before they got to Astwick, this probably hurt its trade. To the north, at the Sandy roundabout, lay Sandy Little Chef which, as well as its main restaurant, had a Burger King and could be accessed from both sides of the carriageway. Hence, Astwick made the closure list and was gone by 2005, leaving Baldock to soldier on alone.
The site lay empty for many years and, if internet reports are anything to go by, it was left almost full furnished but unlocked. However, by autumn 2009, it had been demolished to make way for upgrades and expansion at the BP filling station.
The Astwick site is most well-known for its featuring in photographer Paul Graham's 1981 body of work A1: The Great North Road, above right.