|Location||Markham Moor, Retford|
The Retford branch was a Little Chef restaurant located just south east of the busy Markham Moor roundabout on the A1 near Retford, Nottinghamshire.
The site was built by Kelly's Kitchen in the 1980s and was accessed from the north east side of the roundabout. The Kelly's Kitchen sites were backed by a brewery company as part of a deal with oil company Petrofina to provide restaurant and petrol station sites on A-roads as a rival to Little Chef. The restaurant was built in Kelly's house style with cottage-style windows, a tiled roof supported by metal girders which overhung the building and a large distinctive funnel built into the roof and wall. Petrofina's petrol station sat alongside the restaurant adjacent to the roundabout.
However, by 1989/90, Forte stepped in and bought Kelly's Kitchen, changing all of their sites, including Retford, to Little Chefs. This gave Forte the third site in their Markham Moor trilogy - they already owned the Happy Eater to the south of Retford and the Little Chef on the west side of the roundabout - and their second Little Chef on the roundabout itself.
However, something had to give and the clincher came in 1994 when Forte decided that it would rebrand all Happy Eater sites as Little Chef because they made more money. Given that Retford Little Chef and Markham Moor Happy Eater were both southbound and only a few hundred yards from each other it was unlikely that both would survive if they were both branded as Little Chef. Sadly for Retford, the Markham Moor Happy Eater was both more distinctive and less likely to impact on Little Chef's main site on the west side of the roundabout and so, in 1995/6, Retford Little Chef closed and the Happy Eater site was rebranded as Little Chef Markham Moor South.
This was not the end for Retford Little Chef though. Today it still trades as Chinese restaurant "China Moon", who also have a second branch in a former Little Chef at Colsterworth. The filling station also survived for a few years but was demolished in the mid 2000s to make way for the replacement of Markham Moor roundabout with a grade separated junction.