Opened in 1989 by Granada, the services was part of their plan to grow their representation on the A-roads by building mini motorway style sites at major A-road junctions. Musselburgh was one of 6 sites to follow this format with Colsterworth (A1), Blyth (A1) Warminster (A36), Markfield (A1/ A50) and Saltash (A38) the others. The sites would have restaurant, shop and lodge plus filling station. Musselburgh's opening co-incided with the completion of the A720 Edinburgh City Bypass and A1 Musselburgh bypass so it was at a really busy intersection and at a logical stopping point having beaten/ before tackling the Edinburgh traffic!
Around 1992, having watched Forte successfully roll out Little Chef at many of its A-road sites, Granada decided to have a go too and did a deal with AJ's Family restaurants, a Little Chef rival. AJ's, probably under franchise agreement, replaced Granada's Country Kitchen restaurant at the 6 listed A-road sites, including Musselburgh offering Little Chef style waitress service and a similar menu. Granada closed the shop by the mid 90s too, instead directing customers to the one at the filling station but added a Burger King to the site in 1994/5.
Change came in 1995/6 when Granada took over Forte and in doing so got its hands on the Little Chef and Travelodge brands. They wasted no time in changing the AJ's to a Little Chef and the Granada Lodge to a Travelodge. This gave the Edinburgh City Bypass 2 Little Chefs with the existing Little Chef at Dreghorn the other. 2000-2002 saw Granada merge with Compass Cateringand then demerge to focus on media leaving compass in control of their roadside services portfolio. Compass then sold Little Chef and Travelodge to Permira of Canada but still allowed them to operate the Little Chef, BK and Travelodge at some of their sites, including Musselburgh.
However, by 2010, the plug was pulled at Musselburgh. Little Chef had new owners in the shape of R Capital, a venture capital firm, who decided to slim down the portfolio and the site was one of the casualties. The reasoning was that the site was underperforming which may have been in part due to the rents set by the site's owners, by now Moto hospitality, or perhaps due to the proximity of another longer established Little Chef at Dreghorn and the growing number of retail and leisure parks with food outlets springing up at junctions on the bypass.
Today the restaurant still lies empty and only the Travelodge and filling station still trade. Dreghorn Little Chef has now gone too so this area is now poorly represented both for Little Chefs and for roadside eateries. Arguably, Musselburgh still has a lot of potential as a Little Chef site. It remains at a major road intersection, at A1 between Edinburgh and Newcastle is now a much faster road so more people use it plus the site can cater better for lorries and coaches than the average Little Chef. Add to this the fact it would no longer be stepping on Dreghorn's toes and it makes a case for itself.
Although the Forte numbering system was continued by Granada until 1998/9, Musselburgh Little Chef was never given one. It has therefore been given the hypothetical number 514, which is in keeping with other sites that opened around this time.