The Northop Hall branch was a former Little Chef restaurant located on the eastbound side of the A55 near Northop Hall, Flintshire.
Northop Hall services, located on the eastbound side of the A55, was built as one half of a dual sided service station in the 1980s with Gateway services, located about a quarter of a mile away on the westbound side, making up the other half of the dual sider. These two sites were home to Little Chef restaurants when they had opened, but seeming the restaurant on the eastbound side opened as a Happy Eater soon after opening, and there is no evidence that westbound ever had a Little Chef, this was unknown by many. The Westbound site closed by 1997, and has since been operating as an american OK Diner restaurant (as is the former Little Chef at New Fox South, which closed around 2002/03).
Northop Hall Little Chef started life as a Happy Eater restaurant which opened in the 1980s/90s alongside a Travelodge hotel and a filling station. Back in 1986, Forte had acquired the Happy Eater chain and they saw that Little Chef was a quite a large chain compared to Happy Eater which wasn't so big in those days. Therefore in order to increase their representation of Happy Eater, Forte had decided to expand the chain across the country as well as expanding Little Chef and they chose Northop Hall as one of their Happy Eater sites. The expansion of Happy Eater was good in a couple of ways at this made the brand more recognisable and it gave travellers a more choice of different roadside restaurant chains to dine at.
However in the 1990s, Forte had seen that out of the two, Little Chef seemed to be making more money than Happy Eater, therefore they had thought that it would make sense to convert all existing Happy Eater restaurants into Little Chefs and this of course was a good idea as it helped the more profitable Little Chef chain grow. Northop Hall had received the treatment in 1996/97 and it continued to trade on as a Little Chef happily thereafter.
In the mid/late 1990s, Forte and later Granada decided to rebrand a number of Little Chefs. In a bid to try and attract more evening diners, especially from the lodges, and a young professional clientelle, certain restaurants were given an internal makeover with new carpets, tables, chairs, softer lighting, blinds and higher quality partitions and kitchen areas. These branches also received air conditioning. As part of this, Northop Hall was given blue branding. Along with this, Granada had opened a Burger King outlet alongside the Little Chef.
However, the majority of restaurants were reverted back to the traditional red branding. Northop Hall therefore returned to its standard red logos but kept the new furnishings. In the mid 2000s, the site had lost its Burger King too.
In 2006, a Coffee Tempo! outlet had opened alongside the Little Chef at Northop Hall, in the old Burger King area. However this was converted into Little Chef Express in 2012 along with 10 other Coffee Tempo! sites.
Unlike any other Little Chef on the network, the 'minimilk' lamp posts on the car park were removed and gone by 2016, as the restaurant was still currently in operation.
In April 2017, Northop Hall was one of a few Little Chefs to close down. By June, it reopened as a Starbucks cafe under the ownership of Eurogarages. The OK Diner on the westbound side still soldiers on happily though