Customers will be able to carry out a fast charge of up to 7kW while eating in the restaurants or buying a takeaway under the company's plans to become the first restaurant chain in Europe to offer electric car charging.
Speaking to BigHospitality a month into his new role as chairman of Little Chef, former BP retail managing director Graham Sims said the initiative was part of plans to refresh and re-establish the brand, which he said had ‘gone through the doldrums’ in recent years.
As well as installing the EV chargers, the company is spending £3m refurbishing its estate with each site to be looked at on a case by case basis.
“Some sites don’t need very much attention. They may just need some new equipment while other sites will need complete refurbishment. In some cases we will look at re-building sites as opposed to just refreshing, but we’ll look at each one individually,” said Sims.
Green technology will also play a key part in the refurbishment and rebuild of some sites.
“Whether it’s solar or wind that’s an area we are looking into. We should be more than just the place for breakfast, we should be somewhere people can come any time of the day and feel good about using us and about there being other things they can benefit from, whether that’s car charging or something else,” he said.
Sims said Little Chef, which introduced a ‘Good to Go’ takeaway concept last year, would also be working with a handful of ‘strategic partners’ in the next few years. The brand already works with Burger King at certain sites and is looking at other options.
It will also continue to work with chef Heston Blumenthal, brought in to ‘breathe new life’ into the brand in 2008 and who has devised special menus and designs for branches at Popham, Kettering and York.
Sims said: “Heston is still working with us and advising us. The three sites relating to what he did still exist and the 10 concept sites all have menus that have developed out of those created with Heston. These menus still are a very important part of our business.”
Sims said he expected to announce news of the partnership agreements in the next month.