The Balhaldie South branch was a Little Chef restaurant located on the southbound side of the A9 near Balhaldie, Scotland.
Address and Onsite Facilities
ADDRESS: A9 Southbound, Balhaldie, Dunblane, Perthshire, FK15 0NB
ONSITE FACILITIES: Shell, Select (forecourt), Deli2Go (forecourt), Costa Express (forecourt), Starbucks Drive Thru
The Little Chef opened between 1980 and 1982. The site had been used for many things over the years including garage, blacksmiths and an Inn and the Little Chef looks to be housed in the part which was either the accompanying stone-built house or maybe even the Inn. A small single storey extension was added to make the restaurant space slightly larger.
However, from the off, Forte planned this site as a dual sider and sister site Balhaldie North opened in 1984. Located on a large, wide section of dual carriageway both sites were visible for miles and easy to spot for the tired traveller.
In the early 90s, Shell built a filling station right next to Balhaldie South, complimenting the Little Chef nicely and encouraging more people to stop. It is also believed that neighbouring ground was kept for a potential Travelodge development although this never happened. The restaurant has also benefitted from several small-scale refits over the last few years with the most recent coming in the mid 2000s so it still looks pretty fresh, especially from the outside. In the early 90s Dunblane, the settlement to the south was bypassed which also helped to make both Little Chefs more attractive for a stop.
By 1996, with the closure of the Johnstonebridge sites on the A74 due to motorway development, Balhadie remained the only dual-sider in Scotland and the sites seemed to be successfully avoiding many of the large-scale closures that afflicted Little Chefs, especially across Scotland in 2002, 2004 and 2007. Even in January 2012, when then owner R Capital decided to close 67 branches, both Balhaldies were not on the list. However, September 2012 saw more closures added and sadly this time Balhaldie South lost its twin and soldiered on alone. The end of an era.
In doing so it became the furthest north Little Chef in the UK and one of only two branches left in Scotland with the Edinburgh City Bypass site the only other. However, by January 2014, even that closed suddenly leaving Balhaldie South as not only the furthest north Little Chef in the UK but the only Scottish site. Once there were 23 simultaneously trading in Scotland!
On the 10th March 2017, Balhaldie South closed its doors for the final time in its history, marking the end of Little Chef's presence in Scotland. The branch was set to re-open as a Starbucks in May 2017 but plans later changed to Greggs. Having been left untouched for a while, a Starbucks Drive Thru finally opened on the former Little Chef car park in 2019 and although the Little Chef building still remains untouched to this day, there are plans for a Greggs Drive Thru to replace the building, complimenting the Starbucks.