Little Chef is poised to ditch its iconic Fat Charlie logo as part of a major brand rethink.
Owner Lawrence Wosskow told Caterer the roadside group would trial four new restaurant designs before the summer.
He added: "There's a strong possibility they won't include Fat Charlie. We've got some great sites but some look stuck in the 1950s.
"We want to make the image softer, warmer and trendier," Wosskow said. The traditional red signage will be replaced by a new brown and cream design.
The trial sites, two of which will be located in the North and two in the South, will be slightly different to see which works best.
All four restaurants will offer self-service menus in a break from the traditional table-service model of the past. "Most people want to spend 20 not 45 minutes when they stop," Wosskow said.
The owner of the 235-strong chain pointed to the success of new grab-and-go concept Coffee Tempo!, which was exclusively revealed in Caterer recently, as proof of changing tastes among roadside customers.
"We hit our week's sales target across the four new sites in two days," he said.
But food service consultant Jonathan Doughty warned that change would have to be more than cosmetic. "Changing the brand alone is like putting a burger in a different box. It signals a new beginning but the food and operation will have to deliver on it."
To help fund the development programme, Little Chef last week sold 65 sites to Arazim Investment, an Israeli property investor.
The £60.3m sale-and-leaseback deal was handled by leisure mergers and acquisitions advisor Coffer Corporate Leisure.
By Tom Bill
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