Kelly's Kitchen was a waitress service restaurant chain with 17 branches by 1989. One of their first sites was at Fradley on the A38, which opened in 1987.
They were developed by Norfolk House and Petrofina, providing food and fuel, with a motel added in some instances. In order to rival Forte's Little Chef, the restaurants had to be developed fast, and they quickly appeared at junctions along major A-roads. Their aim was to be the UK's second-biggest roadside restaurant chain.
Their restaurants were all built to the same style with red brick built buildings, traditional cottage-style windows, tiled roofs which came down over the tops of the external walls and large funnel-like chimneys. Their first branches were at Fradley in the West Midlands, but the company's main target area was the South East.
The brand was purchased by Crest Hotels, a Bass company. Subsequently motels were proposed alongside Kelly's Kitchens, under the brand Highway Lodge. Crest Hotels were themselves purchased by Trusthouse Forte in August 1990. Forte changed all the restaurants to become Little Chefs, ending the very short-lived rivalry. Forte appeared to be mainly interested in using the deal to expand Travelodge.
Given how quickly they had expanded, it's not surprising that Kelly's Kitchen had a number of outstanding planning applications which hadn't been followed up on. The ones which were still in the early stages were dropped in 1991 while the ones which had been finalised were included in the sale and followed up on. It's likely that some restaurants were changed to a Little Chef moments before they opened.
Full details: Map of Kelly's Kitchen restaurants
The following Little Chef restaurants were built in the Kelly's Kitchen style. It is likely that they started out as Kelly's Kitchen, but possible that some of them had been sold and re-branded before they opened.
- Beacon Hill (A14)
- Bickerstaffe (M58 J3)
- Black Cat (A1/A421)
- Brentwood (A12/M25 J28)
- Broadlands (A47)
- Crewe (Barthomley) (M6 J15/A500)
- Fenny Stratford (Milton Keynes) (A5)
- Fradley north & south (A38)
- Lincoln (Thorpe on the Hill) (A46)
- Markham Moor (Retford) (A1/A57)
- Ruabon (A483)
- Rushden (A45)
- Seaton Burn (A1/A19)
- Wellingborough (A45)
- West Lynn (A17/A47)
- Wisbech (A47)
- Worksop (A57/A60)
Norfolk House and Petrofina planned a number of services around this time which were never built. Some of examples which have been found are: