|Markham Moor North|
|Name||Markham Moor North|
|Location||Markham Moor, Retford|
The Markham Moor North branch is a current Little Chef restaurant located at the busy Markham Moor junction on the A1 near Retford, Nottinghamshire.
The site was built in 1988/89 on what was at the time the busy Markham Moor roundabout. Roundabout sites on the A1 were great news for roadside caterers as they provided easy, at grade access to services from all routes and sites were usually pretty visible. Indeed, at its height Kelly's Kitchen, Happy Eater, Little Chef, McDonalds and the Markham Moor truckstop were all clustered around the roundabout. Forte did particularly well out of the Markham Moor roundabout as, by 1989/90 it had taken over both Happy Eater and Kelly's Kitchen and controlled three sites around the roundabout. The Kelly's Kitchen site became Retford Little Chef in 1989/90, a year after Markham Moor opened but was sold off by 1996. This was because, around this time, Forte decided to rebrand Happy Eater sites as Little Chef and obviously decided that three Little Chefs in such close proximity wasn't really going to work. The ex-Happy Eater site was branded Markham Moor South with the original Little Chef going from just being Markham Moor to Markham Moor North.
In terms of an all-round package Markham Moor North was easily the best site of the three. It was the only one with access directly from the roundabout and the only one to feature Little Chef's ideal line-up of restaurant, lodge (Branded Forte Travelodge Retford confusingly) and filling station, all of which worked together to attract customers with a one-stop shop. Around 1994 Forte recognised the rise of the grab and go and fast food options and launched a complimentary brand called "Little Chef Express". Markham Moor was the first branch to trial this service with a small extension built to its restaurant so both brands could be offered under one roof. The idea continued until Granada took over Forte and changed the format to Burger King. Forte however must have been very fond of Markham Moor as it became the pin up site for their free Travelodge and Little Chef brochures/ maps in the mid 1990s.
In 2006, Markham Moor North was one of a number of sites to be joined by a Coffee Tempo branch, replacing the Burger King. However, this was short lived and was removed by 2009.
In 2011, Markham Moor North was renovated to become one of the ten 'Wonderfully British' sites created that year. Wonderfully British was the follow-on, slightly tweaked version of the "Hestonised" site with slightly different interior finishes, new branding (Charlie lost his tray and instead had his arms open to welcome visitors) and Little Chef's new "grab and go" take-away option known as Good to Go.
Unfortunately, Markham Moor North lost its southbound partner, the former Happy Eater, in 2012 when then owners RCapital decided to cut 67 unprofitable sites. However, Markham Moor North still continues to trade today.
In September 2014, Markham Moor North was one of six Little Chef owned sites that received a Subway outlet.