|Year Opened||1994/95, 2005|
|Year Closed||2004, 2008|
Address and Onsite InformationEdit
ADDRESS: A1 Southbound, Rainton, Thirsk, North Yorkshire, YO7 3QA
ONSITE FACILITIES: None
The site was first built in the 1970s as a dual sider by a small service station operator known as "Station Supreme", with each side sporting a filling station and a cafe under the Station Supreme brand known simply as the Station Supreme cafe. The design of the buildings were very different. While the northbound building opened in a very distinctive building with a sloping metal roof, the southbound cafe opened in a small, typical roadside building.
In the 1980s, the Station Supreme brand didn't last and the two cafes at Rainton closed for good. Fortunately, Happy Eater bought the two buildings at the services and reopened them both as Happy Eater restaurants. In the process, the original southbound cafe was demolished in order to make way for a more modern building with the 70s/80s Happy Eater design, meaning that although both sides traded as Happy Eater restaurants, they looked completely different. The filling station on the southbound side was also demolished.
By the mid 90s, Forte, who acquired Happy Eater in 1986, decided that it was going to phase out the Happy Eater brand and replace it with the more profitable Little Chef brand which they also owned. Rainton was one of the first sites to get the treatment with both restaurants changing to Little Chef by 1995. The northbound roof was painted bright red to represent the Little Chef branding and the site even gained a Little Chef Coffee Stop, which was later replaced by a Burger King when Granada took control of Little Chef following their takeover of Forte. The northbound building was also one of the Coffee Tempo! sites operating with Little Chef restaurants in the UK. Even though, southbound site didn't recieve the bonus facilities, it still happily traded on its own as a Little Chef.
In 2004 Little Chef's owner's of the time Permira decided to close Rainton South in order to focus on the longer established Little Chef branch at Sinderby, less than 10 miles north on the southbound side. This decision was then overturned in 2005 when new owners People's Restaurant Company took control of Little Chef and re-opened Rainton South, opting instead to close Sinderby. Even though Sinderby closed, at least the busier Rainton South site happily reopened.
In its Little Chef guise Rainton was a popular site with northbound especially doing a great trade, often recognised as Little Chef's busiest site. It's visibility and distinctive colour, coupled with decent advanced signage and a lack of alternatives on this section of the A1 were surely all contributing factors.
Sadly, trouble was brewing!
In 2008, there were plans to upgrade the current A1 to motorway form which also involved widening the road which would take up Rainton Services. In late 2008, the southbound branch closed and the building was demolished soon after closure as the first part of the road was widened. The northbound Little Chef closed in December 2009 and its accesses to and from the motorway have now been severed.
Since the closure of the northbound site, the building laid empty and started falling into disrepair, until it was later taken over by Thompson Commercials Ltd, a specialised Renault dealer, who demolished the old building in 2015. As for the southbound site, the building no longer exists but the old car park still remains with a minimilk trading lamppost providing the only hint of Little Chef's past at the site.