Little Chef Wiki
Name Newark
Number 704
Year Opened 1996/97
Year Closed 2003-07
Road A1/A17/A46
Location Newark, Nottinghamshire
County Nottinghamshire
Postcode NG24 2NY

The Newark branch was a Little Chef located off a roundabout at the A1/ A17/ A46 interchange.

Facilities: Esso, Londis and Shell, Little Waitrose and Partners

The site was originally built by motorway service area operator Top Rank in the late 80s/ early 90s. Like other rivals - Welcome Break and Granada - Top Rank saw the A-roads as a great potential market and opened two sites at Bangor and Newark. These were essentially scaled-down motorway services with Newark sporting restaurant, shop and filling station. 

In 1992 Top Rank's roadside services were the subject of a management buyout with the new company, Pavilion, taking control. However, by 1994, Pavilion decided to scale back their A-road involvement and sold off Bangor and Newark with Forte buying both sites. Newark was then converted to a Happy Eater site. Given that Forte had already decided to convert much of the Happy Eater portfolio to Little Chef as they made more money this seemed like a bit of a strange decision. However, the A1, A17 and A46 were already well represented by Little Chefs so perhaps Forte decided this would be less likely to impact adversely on its existing Little Chef sites. 

However, it was reported that Forte, sensing that it was vulnerable to takeover, had made a Gentleman's agreement with Whitbread group that they would buy Happy Eater if Forte needed to sell it so maybe this was a way of helping to make the chain an attractive proposition. 

Anyway, by 1995 Forte had been the subject of a hostile takeover by Granada and the Whitbread agreement never went ahead. Granada converted Newark to a Little Chef and wasted no time in adding a Burger King alongside it.

However, Newark Services was not the only restaurant to be located at the junction, Rival chain AJ's Family Restaurants had a restaurant at Winthorpe just slightly east of the roundabout and on opposite side of the A46 to Newark Services. In 1998 Granada bought AJ's and converted the restaurant to a Little Chef so Newark Little Chef had another Little Chef chasing its custom. 

Sadly despite decent locations serving multiple routes, both Little Chefs closed between 2003 and 2007. Today the Newark branch has been taken over by independent outfit "The Friendly Farmer" , which, like the Little Chef, is using the original Top Rank building. The Winthorpe branch became 'Mint Leaf' restaurant. Forecourts were present at both sites, with Winthorpe owned by MRH, then MFG, whilst Newark was owned by Shell, who added a Little Waitrose store.

Owners of the forecourt, MFG, planned to redevelop the Winthorpe garage in April 2020, whilst, meanwhile at Newark, The Friendly Farmer closed due to COVID-19 struggles.

Trouble was brewing. In late 2020, plans were incoming to upgrade the sliproads, and one of the two plans would see the Winthorpe site demolished. MFG put their plans for the forecourt on hold, and Mint Leaf, closed due to lockdown anyway, quickly emptied the building and shut-up shop in anticipation of the demolition. The decision voting closed in February 2021, and the chosen plan will be revealed during Summer 2021.