|Number||265 and 703|
The Sparkford branch was a former Little Chef on the A303 near Sparkford in Somerset.
The site started life as something of an institution known as "The Frying Pan Cafe", much loved by locals, long distance haulage drivers and the travelling public alike. However, a huge fire demolished the cafe in the early 80s, spelling the end for the Frying Pan Cafe. Forte seized the opportunity and took on the site, opening it is Sparkford Little Chef in 1984/85. The building was a new build in the same style as Stonehouse (which opened a couple of years later in Gloucestershire) being brick built and with a pitched red pan-tiled roof.
By 1986 Forte had acquired the Happy Eater brand which gave them an additional A303 site at Camel Cross just a few miles west of Sparkford Little Chef. With two sites so close together, it is likely that Forte decided that one had to go and with Sparkford Little Chef being in such a new building, Camel Cross Happy Eater got the chop. However, potentially to ensure that Happy Eater customers were not lost and potentially because there were already many Little Chefs on the A303, the decision was taken, between 1986 and 1988, to turn Sparkford Little Chef into Sparkford Happy Eater instead. it ceased to be Little Chef 265 and became Happy Eater 103.
However, by the 1990s, Forte had decided that, because Little Chef was the more lucrative of the two brands, they would re-brand the whole Happy Eater estate as Little Chef, Sparkford Happy Eater was one of the last to receive the treatment, becoming Little Chef site 703 by 1997. Initially, again probably due to the number of Little Chefs already on this route, it was a Little Chef Express only, but later became a fully fledged Little Chef again. This made it a "two bites of the cherry" site for Little Chef and it is the only site to have had two different numbers whilst it was open.
Sadly, in 2007, all was to change again. Little Chefs parents, who by now were People's Restaurant Group, hit financial problems and the brand was taken by new owners, venture capitalists R Capital. Not all the sites transferred over and Sparkford was one of the 41 to be closed in 2007.
The site lay empty until early 2014 when it was bought by local businesswoman Mrs Mattia who set about turning it into Mattia's Diner, an American themed outlet.