The Bicester branch was a former Little Chef restaurant located on the A41 near Bicester, Oxfordshire.
Address and Onsite InformationEdit
ADDRESS: A41, Bicester, Oxfordshire, OX26 1BT
ONSITE FACILITIES: Esso, Spar (forecourt), Greggs (forecourt), Starbucks on the Go (forecourt), EG Diner, Burger King
Housed inside of a large building with a low tiled roof, the restaurant opened as a Happy Eater in the 1980s. At this point, the UK was pretty well served with Little Chef restaurants as this was the time when the chain was increasing rapidly all over the country. Therefore, in order to give travellers a different selection of roadside restaurant chains to dine at and to increase the presence of other roadside brands on motorways and A-roads, Forte decided to increase their representation of their newly acquired Happy Eater chain as well as increasing their representation of the Little Chef chain. Thus, Bicester was one of the sites chosen by Forte to recieve a Happy Eater restaurant. Bicester was probably one of Happy Eater's busiest sites for a couple of reasons. For starters, it was positioned alongside a filling station and this made the site a good bet as it should help to attract extra custom to the restaurant. Also, being very close to the town of Bicester, there was always the chance of attracting locals to the restaurant as well as traffic on the main A41 road.
In the 1990s, Forte came to a conclusion that out of Little Chef and Happy Eater, Little Chef seemed to be more profitable than Happy Eater and seemed to be more popular too. As a result, some of the Happy Eater restaurants in the estate were converted into Little Chef restaurants by Forte and Granada between 1993 and 1997. The Happy Eater at Bicester was one of the first to recieve the treatment and became a Little Chef between 1993 and 1995.
A few years after the opening of Bicester, Little Chef was placed in the hands of Granada. During their ownership of Little Chef, Granada were famous for rolling out Burger King outlets at Little Chef sites and Bicester was one of many to recieve a BK outlet in the Granada era. BK's were positive in some ways as they helped to attract extra custom to Little Chefs as well as giving travellers a second restaurant option. The BK continues to trade to this day unlike some others which closed in the mid 2000s.
In 2006, Bicester recieved a Coffee Tempo! outlet. However, this was gone by 2011.
In 2017, Euro Garages took over the Little Chef chain and throughout the year, a majority of the restaurants were converted into brands such as Starbucks and Subway. By January 2018, only half of the Little Chef restaurants remaining were converted, leaving around 35 to 40 Little Chefs still trading. Due to Euro Garages being unable to use the Little Chef name after 31st January 2018, they had to think of an option to quickly convert the remaining restaurants. This was when EG Diner was born and Bicester was one of the first of these to open. However, these EG Diners at the moment are literally just unbranded Little Chefs with the EG Diner menu. The remaining Little Chefs are expected to follow the same path, although some will only be open for a short period of time, as they have further plans to be replaced by other brands.