Roadside restaurant chain Little Chef is to invest in a £30m revamp of its restaurants and plans to expand by more than 55 sites over the next five years.
Little Chef, which currently operates 162 restaurants across the UK, plans to transform its sites to include a McDonald's-style drive-through and take-away service.
The chain's owner, RCapital, which rescued the business from collapse in 2007, will also offer franchise outlets for the first time in the chain's 53-year history.
The move follows a rebranding exercise earlier this year, in which Little Chef's famous logo of a chef lost his tray.
RCapital has appointed Graham Sims, former retail director at BP, who set up the Wild Bean Café in petrol stations, as chairman of the business to drive it forward. The group's previous boss, Ian Pegler, who was responsible for drafting in Heston Blumenthal to spruce up the chain's food offering, left the company last year.
Blumenthal's efforts to revamp Little Chef's food were filmed as part of a Channel 4 programme called Big Chef Takes on Little Chef. The new restaurant design and menu, developed during the show, will continue be rolled out nationwide as part of the revamp.
Little Chef made a £2.5m profit last year, compared with the £7.5m loss in 2007 when it was rescued out of administration.
By Kerstin Kühn
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