Little Chef restaurant manager goes solo after site closure

By Luke Nicholls

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Little chef, Restaurant

The 70-cover Sheila's Kitchen restaurant will open on the site of this former Little Chef in Dunkirk
The 70-cover Sheila's Kitchen restaurant will open on the site of this former Little Chef in Dunkirk
When the Little Chef at Gate Services in Kent closed last year, the restaurant’s manager Sheila Feaver took no time taking over the site, with her new restaurant – Shelia’s Kitchen – opening tomorrow (16 May).

The venue in Dunkirk was one of 40-plus Little Chef sites closed and subsequently brought to market by Christie & Co​last year, but Feaver is the first former Little Chef restaurant manager to take on one of the sites.

“I decided as soon as we were notified of the closure that I wanted to take it,” said Feaver – who had worked at the Little Chef restaurant for 15 years.

“Of course, it was a decision taken as much with the heart as the head, but our regular customers’ enthusiasm for a restaurant on this site makes me certain the decision is a wise one.

“One of the hardest parts of the last few months has been turning customers away, but this is also a positive sign for the future.

"It’s been a very long and hard few months to get Sheila’s Kitchen to this point and I couldn’t have done it without the support of my family and the team here. Now I just can’t wait to open the doors on the new restaurant.”

Real example

Sheila’s Kitchen will have 70 covers and ‘will preserve the very best traditions of roadside dining’ – it will follow the Little Chef mould but Feaver will be looking to expand the menu over time.

Specialist property advisors Christie & Co has overseen the re-letting of 30 former Little Chef restaurant to a range of operators; from global coffee chains​to existing roadside restaurant operators and individuals, like Feaver, looking to start a new business venture.

Simon Chaplin, director of restaurants at Christie & Co, said: “Sheila’s drive and determination to keep a roadside restaurant at the Gate Services site is a real example to people during these difficult economic times. She has demonstrated that with the will and the resolve to achieve, people can fulfil their business ambitions.

“There are some former Little Chefs still on the market and Sheila’s example may be one that other former Little Chef restaurant staff and managers can follow.”

Roadside restaurant chain Little Chef was put up for sale last month as turnaround firm RCapital – which bought the business out of administration in 2007 – claimed ‘it’s time to explore the next phase for the foodservice operator’.

Read our Business Timeline of Little Chef here.

Related topics: Business, People, Restaurants, Venues

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