|Location||Lamberhurst, Tunbridge Wells|
Address and Onsite FacilitiesEdit
ADDRESS: A21, Lamberhurst, Tunbridge Wells, Kent, TN5 7QA
ONSITE FACILITIES: 5 Ashdown Garage, Skinner's Sheds/Log Cabins
Lamberhurst Little Chef can trace its roots back to the early 1970s. In 1970 Forte had just merged with Trusthouses, the owners of Little Chef at the time, to form Trusthouse Forte and had big plans for Little Chef. At this point two top execs, Michael Pickard, the former Trusthouses MD and Allen Jones, the former Little Chef MD, decided to leave the company and set up on their own. Pickard set up Happy Eater as a Little Chef rival and Jones tried to form a company called Mr Chef. However, Forte complained the name was too similar to Little Chef so Jones went back to the drawing board and asked his employees to come up with a name. The one he picked was "Welcome Break". By the mid 1970s there were 10 Welcome Break sites with Lamberhurst being number 9. In the late 70s Pickard and Jones joined forces and all Welcome Breaks, including Lamberhurst were re-branded as Happy Eater.
Trusthouse Forte then got their hands on Happy Eater in 1986 and rebuilt Lamberhurst in a new building around 1986-88, with it re-opening in 1988. It is unclear why this was done though. By 1994 Forte had decided that Little Chef was a better brand than Happy Eater and decided to rebrand a majority of Happy Eaters as Little Chef. This programme lasted 3 years, by which time Granada had taken over Forte, with Lamberhurst becoming a Little Chef around 1996/7. Granada then added a Burger King to the Little Chef and Lamberhurst traded with both brands for a while before reverting back to a Little Chef only in the mid 2000s.
Unlike any other Little Chef, some of the litter bins in the car park of this restaurant were coloured yellow and not red or blue.
Despite surviving some of the larger Little Chef culls in 2001/2, 2004 and 2007, Lamberhurst was one of the 67 sites identified for closure when Little Chef hit financial problems in January 2012. It was given a small stay of execution but finally closed in September 2012, marking Little Chef's total withdrawal from Kent.
A few years later, the Little Chef re-opened as a car dealership along with a shed and log cabin shop.