REGIONAL MANAGERS - LC had a deliberate policy of making sure each RM had no more than 10 sites as this allowed them to get into every site on a weekly basis and to build up a really personal relationship with all the staff. The main duties of RM's were to set the sales targets for each site, to set the wage budgets, to carry out monthly housekeeping checks and to undertake yearly appraisals for all members of the management team at each site. They also organised fantastic social events in each region and sometimes ran competitions where it was possible to win great prizes such as a car or a holiday!!! All the benefits of belonging to such a great parent company.
STAFF TRAINERS - Until 1983 all training was under the supervision of a Regional Training Officer but as the number of sites grew it became unworkable. This was when regional staff trainers were introduced who were responsible for all training in 10 sites close to their own base site. To become a staff trainer I had to undergo an extensive training course which was endorsed by the Hotel and Catering Industry Training Board, produce some new training materials and be observed carrying out training. Only when I had successfully done all this was I awarded my certificate and badge.
GRANADA TAKEOVER AND THE SAD END - I have never ceased to be amazed at why Granada wanted to get their hands on Forte and the way in which they launched such an aggressive takeover bid. To my mind the rot set in as soon as they took over. With LC in particular they made several huge mistakes. The first thing they did was to do away with Coffee Stop and replace those units with Burger King. Utterly ridiculous as the coffee market was just starting to really grow then (look at Costa's success) and anyway, LC already offered a good range of burgers. Granada also immediately did away with the Happy Eater Brand and converted all those sites to LC. They also converted their own smaller chain of roadside restaurants (AJ's) to LC and opened up LC's in their motorway services. All Of this was done hastily and in many cases just consisted of a change of external signage, uniforms and menu. This meant that the national look of LC was really watered down and the traveller felt there was no choice anymore on the roadside. Add to this a massive hike in prices and the number of RM's cut so that each one now had 40-50 sites and the whole brand started to fall apart. Five years later Granada offloaded LC to Compass and then in the next 18 years LC went through another six owners, all of whom stripped assets, failed to invest, closed sites, etc. And the rest is history sadly.
A great, big THANK YOU to Adrian for getting in touch and sharing his time with Little Chef with us, not only offering an interesting glimpse into a now sadly defunct and much missed part of British life but for offering a fresh way of allowing us to preserve and share the memories of these welcome breaks on this site. If you worked for Little Chef and would like to share your memories please get in touch.
©Arfon Jones 2021. All images are copyrighted throughout the world.