The Popham branch was a former Little Chef restaurant located on the westbound side of the A303 near the village of Popham, Hampshire. It was probably the most famous Little Chef in the UK.
Address and Onsite Information[edit | edit source]
ADDRESS: A303 Westbound, Popham, Basingstoke, Hampshire, SO21 3SP
ONSITE FACILITIES: BP, M&S Simply Food (forecourt), Wild Bean Cafe (forecourt), ChargeMaster Electric Vehicle Charging Points, Starbucks
History[edit | edit source]
Opened in 1995, Popham typified the Little Chef of the era and was housed inside of a building with a pitched roof, lightly toned bricks and large windows; the more modern alternative to the pitched roof, double front house design. It was the partner site to the existing Micheldever branch, the eastbound Little Chef located directly opposite which opened all the way back in 1986/87. Both sites were built alongside filling stations which were always great news for Little Chef restaurants as they always had the potential to attract extra custom to the restaurants.
As Granada were in charge of the Little Chef when it first opened, they decided to add a Burger King to the site which helped attract extra custom to the Little Chef besides the filling station. The Burger King however later closed. In 2006, the old Burger King area was replaced with a Coffee Tempo! outlet.
In 2008, one of the biggest events happened for Little Chef. Celebrity chef, Heston Blumenthal came to the Popham Little Chef and appeared in a three hour documentary on Channel 4 where he attempted to refurbish the Little Chef brand. When Blumenthal came to Popham, he saw that the restaurant was dated and needed an upgrade. He also saw that Little Chef had a tired menu. After the review of the restaurant, the Little Chef closed temporarily whilst works were taking place inside. The new Little Chef had a number of differences compared to the old one. The site gained the Ab Rogers designed interior featuring the modern British diner decor, the "Blue Sky Thinking" ceiling and a timeline wall, charting Little Chef's evolution through the years. Blumenthal also altered the Little Chef menu by adding some dishes that were inspired by his own restaurant, the Fat Duck in Bray, Berkshire, most notably Ox Cheeks and Lamb Shank. A massive success!
After the refurbishment, the Little Chef became busier than ever. The services car park was full to the maximum and the restaurant itself was full of customers that were happy to see the change. The site even received electrical car charging points so that electrical powered cars can charge for a bit whilst the driver enjoyed a meal.
Sadly, the Little Chef didn't have high hopes for long. The restaurant started to recieve a lot of negative reviews on TripAdvisor with an average rating of 2 stars. A real shame,
In 2012, a Little Chef Express opened at Popham, in the old Burger King/Coffee Tempo! area.
In 2013, Blumenthal was dropped from the Little Chef menu because his dishes inspired from his own restaurant, The Fat Duck were "too posh" for Little Chef and they were said to be unpopular, therefore unprofitable.
In 2017, the Little Chef closed its doors as part of the Euro Garages takeover. It later reopened as a Starbucks.