Troubled roadside diner brand Little Chef has dropped menu items introduced by three-Michelin-starred chef Heston Blumenthal, six years after he came on board to help improve its image.
The Fat Duck chef first helped to revitalise the Little Chef restaurant on the A303 at Popham, Hampshire. Aside from redesigning the menu he also helped revamp the interior of the restaurant, with touches like urinals playing recordings of Spike Milligan reciting nonsense verse while in use.
The menu and design were later introduced at other locations including Amesbury in Wiltshire, Podimore and Ilminster in Somerset, Fontwell in West Sussex and Doncaster.
But the chain said that Blumenthal's dishes, which included ox cheeks and strawberry and orange flowerwater yoghurt hadn't proved a hit with customers.
Quoted in the Daily Mail, Little Chef spokesman Richard Hillgrove said: "Heston originally approached us to do his Channel 4 show about how he was going to save Little Chef. It seemed like a good idea at the time. But he took everything away from its core. He was very particular about the decor. He even wanted talking toilets in the restaurants where his food was on the menu.
"The problem is that no one wants his food. None of his dishes are popular.
"As of Monday, we've dropped all his dishes from the 10 restaurants where his food was available. Little Chef needs to get back down to earth and that's what we're doing."
A spokesman for Blumenthal said: "As part of the Channel 4 programme he was asked to transform the Little Chef site at Popham. His ideas were well received and the Popham Little Chef concept was extremely successful, incredibly popular with the public and was awarded a listing in the British Good Food Guide.
"Heston never worked for Little Chef after the programme.
"About three years after the programme aired, he was asked by investment company Rcapital to be involved as an advisory consultant. Little Chef was part of their portfolio of companies.
"Due to the success of the Popham site they wanted to roll out the new Little Chef concept Heston had created.
"Unfortunately, the level of investment required in terms of training, rebranding and menu development to deliver consistency and quality in line with the Popham concept were not forthcoming.
"Without this, he stopped his advisory role after a brief period."