|Year Opened||1968-72, 2005|
|Year Closed||2004, 2014|
The Little Chef first opened between 1968 and 1972 and was originally known as the Litlington branch. In this era, Forte sent teams around the UK trying to buy up existing roadside cafes and inns in order to quickly grow Little Chef without the delays and the planning process required to build new sites from scratch. From the design of the building, a converted house or inn, it looks like Litlington was one of these cases. At some point, an extension was added to the Little Chef building in order to enlarge the restaurant.
Litlington was positioned at a well thought site. The site was positioned next to a single carriageway stretch of the A505, meaning that the Little Chef could be easily accessed and spotted by all traffic travelling on the road. Also, the A505 is a road that is prone to a lot of long distance traffic, therefore the Little Chef here would be sure to attract a lot of passing trade and traffic. The site was also positioned right next to a large population source in the form of Royston so there was always the chance of attracting locals to the Little Chef as well as fellow traffic on the A505. The site itself seemed pretty decent too.
In 1982, the A505 saw the construction of the Royston Bypass, a dual carriageway passing alongside the Little Chef and Royston. The new bypass saw a positive development for the site as it meant that the long distance traffic was less likely to venture into the town to stop, making the Little Chef even more attractive to the passing traffic. In order for travellers on the new bypass to gain easy access to the Little Chef, a roundabout connecting the bypass and the Baldock Road (the original A505) was built adjacent to the site.
In 1995, Litlington changed its name to Royston West when the Happy Eater at the Royston East site, located not too far away, became a Little Chef.
Sadly, but somewhat unsurprisingly, the branch was closed in 2004 by then owners Permira. However, it remained fully furnished. Happily, new Little Chef owners, the People's Restaurant Company, came back to Royston West and successfully reopened the Little Chef in 2005 and the restaurant continued to trade happily thereafter.
In 2013, the Royston West site was joined by a McDonalds restaurant, giving the Little Chef competition. The McDonalds was built on what used to be an extra car park area for the Little Chef which was no longer used by diners before the McDonalds came to the site.
When the McDonalds started trading, it became immediately full of customers. The Little Chef on the other hand became more empty as time went on. As the Little Chef failed to make profit, the restaurant came to an end In May 2014 and the building has since remained boarded up. Could we blame the McDonalds for the closure of the Little Chef?
Currently, there are plans to demolish the Little Chef in order to make way for an extension of the McDonalds car park.