|Location||East Horndon, Brentwood|
Opened between 1968 and 1972, East Horndon was one of Little Chef's earliest sites and the restaurant was originally housed inside of a 1930s road house building with an extension built sometime later in order to enlarge the restaurant. It was one half of a dual sided service station. Across the road on the westbound side stood a filling station and an independent cafe which unlike most other independents wasn't bought by Forte when they were buying out existing transport cafes in order to expand the Little Chef chain.
In the 1980s, three things happened:
- Little Chef's owners, Forte, decided to go away with franchises due to varying standards and as a result bought out all of the franchisees.
- East Horndon was deemed to be a substandard building due to problems with drainage and sewerage which caused a subsequent rat infestation.
- THF also decided to plan the opening of lodges alongside Little Chef restaurants and East Horndon was decided upon as one of the initial sites, making a new restaurant a necessity.
In the winter of 1981, the original restaurant building was demolished. The new Little Chef building utilised the original road house and had two floors to it. The ground floor of the building housed the kitchen, store rooms, office, staff room and toilets. The customer seating area and cooking area were a completely new build and now sat at right angles to the A127. The upstairs of the house remained empty for future use and a parcel of land was purchased for the future lodge.
In 1985, the site recieved the bonus of a Little Chef lodge. This particular hotel was housed inside of a single storied building with a total of 16 rooms and shared the same style as the Barton Stacey, Podimore and Barton-under-Needwood Little Chef lodges. The Little Chef lodge was later rebranded as a Travelodge in the 1990s along with all of the other Little Chef lodge sites.
Later on, the independent cafe across the road became a nightclub which was often used by Little Chef staff after late shifts. The club however closed sometime later.
In 2002, the Little Chef recieved the "New Choices" Makeover, giving it some smart new furniture and access to exciting menus from Harry Ramsdens, Upper Crust, Wiseguys Pizza and Caffe Ritazza. Nowadays it trades again as a standard Little Chef, but quite a smart one.
In the 2000s, the site saw the addition of a Harvester restaurant, giving the Little Chef competition. However, the Little Chef managed to hold itself back from the Harvester as it is still operating today.