|Weston on the Green South|
|Name||Weston on the Green South|
|Location||Weston on the Green, Bicester|
The Weston on the Green South branch was a former Little Chef restaurant located on the southbound side of the A34 near Bicester, Oxfordshire.
When it was first built, the restaurant was located on the A43, a single carriageway road, and was therefore able to serve both sides of the road. Forte already had a presence on this corridor, thanks to the opening of their site at Oxford Services with Autogrill and Motel so the Little Chef was another weapon in their arsenal. Located next to a filling station, this was often Forte's preference to help boost business.
Speaking of Oxford Services, Forte used Weston for a lot of market research and it was evidence gathered from its users that led to the opening of the Little Chef as an additional restaurant option at Oxford Services too.
Changes along the corridor between the 70s and the 90s saw the upgrade to dual carriageway, the change of the road number from A43 to A34 on this corridor, to coincide with the opening of the M40 motorway further north and the opening of a northbound sister site, opened by Forte under the Happy Eater brand between 1988 and 1992.
In addition, in the late 80s, Forte saw that the original Little Chef was small and needed a larger space. As a result, a new, large building was built to the north section of the site to give the Little Chef a little bit more space and also give the restaurant an up to date look. The new building opened and had many benefits to it. For example, there was more room in the restaurant to serve more customers and the car park was large too.
In the 1990s, the neighbouring Petrofina filling station closed down. As a result, a new Shell filling station was built at a new site slightly to the north. Instead of moving with Shell, the Little Chef remained at the site. With the closure of the filling station, this meant that the Little Chef had the site to itself. The old petrol station stood abandoned at the site for a long time. The Little Chef itself also gained one of Forte's new Coffee Stops, helping it to appeal to the motorist who just wanted a quick break.
Looking at the site, it displays many of the characteristics of the "New Choices" Little Chefs, created by then owners Compass in the early 2000s, with the hidden kitchen and classier interior. However, it was never actually listed as a Choices site so this may have just been refurbished at the same time as Choices using the same materials.
In 2012, RCapital announced that 67 Little Chef restaurants, that it deemed to be underperforming, would close down. Weston South was not on the list so all looked well. However, in September 2012, some additional shock closures were announced and this time the Weston South branch could not escape. The Little Chef closed on 26th September 2012 leaving the northbound Little Chef to venture on alone. However, in 2013 it re-opened as an independent called "Eat and Go". This company also bought the former branch at Chicklade on the A303.
So plenty of life in the old site yet.