The Rainton North branch was a former Little Chef restaurant located on the northbound side of the A1 near Rainton, North Yorkshire.
The site was first built in the 1970s by a small service 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. Where the southbound cafe opened in a typical, roadside building, the northbound cafe was built inside a large, distinctive building with a sloping metal roof.
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.
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. Northbound was painted bright red to reflect Little Chef's branding and then gained a Little Chef Coffee stop at the same time, which was later replaced by a Burger King when Granada took control of Little Chef following their takeover of Forte. In 2006 PRC then opened a Coffee Tempo! branch at Rainton North alongside its Little Chef and BK offerings.
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 2008, the southbound branch was closed with the building demolished by 2009 as the first part of the road was widened. The Little Chef, Burger King and Coffee Tempo! on the northbound side closed in December 2009. Shortly after, the Texaco petrol station was dismantled and the kiosk building was left to stand abandoned just like the main service building itself. Its accesses to and from the motorway have now been severed.
For five years, the main building at Rainton North was left to stand. In 2015, it was finally demolished, meaning that the iconic red landmark of Thirsk can no longer be seen by travellers on the A1(M)